Genoa City fire still under investigation

Fire damaged several vehicles and a structure at 316 Freeman Street in Genoa City on Dec. 23 and required mutual aid from 18 fire departments to extinguish the blaze. (Heather Ruenz photo)

By Jason Arndt

Authorities are still looking into what caused a five-alarm blaze in Genoa City on Dec. 23 that destroyed a commercial building and displaced two residents.

The five-alarm fire, according to investigators, happened before 2:22 p.m. when representatives from the Genoa City Police Department as well as the Bloomfield Genoa City Fire Department received a call about a structure fire at 316 Freeman Street. The building, formerly home to Knolls Tool and Manufacturing was recently used for storage and as an auto restoration shop.

Police and fire officials said responders arrived to find smoke and fire coming out of the front of the building.

“Responders on scene were notified that an occupant of the building advised everyone was out of the building,” a news release states.

About 10 minutes later, fire officials upgraded the fire to a fourth alarm because of heavy fire and smoke.

Authorities eventually called additional assistance, therefore, raising the alarm to the fifth level due to concerns related to the municipal water system.

“Eighteen surrounding agencies responded to assist with controlling the fire,” a news release states.

Genoa City Police Chief Joseph Balog on Monday said the investigation is still ongoing and the commercial building with an attached residential unit is a total loss.

Balog, meanwhile, believes at least two residents who lived in the apartment unit have been displaced from the fire.

Additionally, according to Balog, the commercial building was primarily used as storage for K&M Auto Sales.

“It is linked to K&M Auto Sales, which is the property next door,” he said.

The Walworth County Investigation Task Force, which responded to fire at 3:34 p.m., is leading the investigation and has not determined the fire’s cause as of Monday.

Officials reported no injuries from the fire.

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