2 buildings a loss, crews manage smoldering Superior, Wis. fire

Firefighters are at the scene of a fire that destroyed two buildings in Superior, Wisconsin early Thursday.

The Superior Fire Department initially received a report of a structure fire along the waterfront within the North End district of Superior at about 5:50 a.m.

Flames and clouds of smoke could be seen via traffic management cameras.

Crews who arrived at the scene made the decision not to fight the fire from the interior for safety reasons, the department reported.

The fire initially started in the Severson building, along North First Street. The fire quickly engulfed that building and spread to the nearby Bayside building, also along North First Street, as it collapsed.

The fire department confirmed, as of 10 a.m., no one was hurt and there were no fatalities reported as a result of the fire.

Both structures are considered to be a total loss.

Superior Mayor Jim Paine asked residents via a post on Facebook early Thursday to avoid the area if possible for a few hours.

"The fire is likely too large to put out so it may be a long time before the area is safe," Paine stated.

Superior Fire Chief Scott Gordon said firefighters would remain at the scene throughout the day Thursday to manage the smoldering buildings. He added the loss of the buildings, built in the 1800s, "are a loss for our community."

In a follow-up post on his Facebook page, Paine said, "The buildings were both vacant but sometimes that can attract people escaping the cold so I was very worried about loss of life. To that end, I’m relieved. But the loss of these buildings is a terrible tragedy. They were both priceless pieces of historic architecture and both had potential for new life. I’m deeply sorry for the loss to the owners and to our community."

Paine stated to residents, "You are safe today, even in the North End, but don’t spend much time outside and please stay away as the fire will continue to burn throughout the day. The National Weather Service and the Fire Department believe the plume will remain fairly contained with minimal risk to the public. Some debris is going to fly around but it’s small and the bridge will remain open."

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), Interstate 535 was temporarily closed in both directions between US 53 and the Minnesota state line because of the fire. Lanes reopened at about 7:30 a.m., WisDOT reported.

This is developing news. KSTP is working to get more details and will post updates as more information becomes available.

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