Residents of a Kenosha apartment building are crediting 8-year-old Addilyn Holland with helping them safely escape a fire.
The fire broke out at Windsor Apartments, 3825 89th Street, at about 10:14 p.m. Friday. The fire destroyed two apartments in the eight-unit building and caused smoke damage to others, displacing everyone who lives there.
Nancy Putrynski said she was watching a movie Friday when “all of the sudden the fire alarm went on.”
“I put my head out of my door and there were people in the hallway pounding on doors, saying get out there’s a fire,” Putrynski said.
Sandy McQuesion said she was in her downstairs apartment when the 8-year-old girl knocked on her patio door, warning her to get out of the building.
Jason Holland said he was asleep when his daughter Addilyn woke him up, saying she smelled smoke.
“I smelled something so I woke him up and he looked out and saw fire,” Addilyn said. “So I ran outside and started knocking on my neighbors’ doors.”
Holland thinks his quick-thinking daughter may have saved lives in the building, which has many elderly residents. “Before I knew it Addy was out in the hallway knocking on doors to get people out and then she ran across and asked people to call 911,” he said.
Addilyn said she learned about fire safety from her grandfather, who was a firefighter. Asked if she was scared when she was trying to alert residents she said “a little.”
Christopher Hannes, battalion chief with the Kenosha Fire Department, said it appears the fire began on an exterior balcony then moved through the soffit into the attic. Those types of fires can spread quickly, he said. He said there were smoke alarms in the building, but he said it is likely that Addilyn smelled the smoke and alerted her father before the alarms went off.
“Our first crews in were very aggressive in attacking the fire,” Hannes said. He said the fire was out by about 11 p.m. He said most residents were already out when fire department arrived, but crews got two residents out of their apartments.
He said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but said it is not believed to be suspicious in origin. Hannes said the fire caused an estimated $200,000 in damage to the building, $50,000 to the contents.
The Holland’s apartment is one of the two that were completely destroyed.
Putrynski said residents worked together to help an elderly woman who lives on the first floor escape. “She’s going to be 93 in a month, so we all look out for her,” Putrynski said. “We all grabbed her and got her out.”
Residents will be unable to return home until the building is repaired. Some residents are staying with friends and family. Others received aid from the Red Cross to stay at a hotel Friday night.
On Saturday morning, residents were gathered outside, waiting to be taken inside their apartments by management to pack belongings. They are worried about when they might be able to go home.
But they were also grateful everyone escaped unharmed.
“It was all thanks to a little girl,” McQuestion said.
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.