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Over 80 FFs battle downtown structure fire in Wis. city

Two Tomah firefighters were injured as the fire extended into several buildings

By Steve Rundio
La Crosse Tribune

TOMAH, Wis. — Two Tomah Fire Department first responders sustained minor injuries Friday night fighting a structure fire in a downtown building.

The fire started around 6 p.m., and flames could be seen coming from the top of a building on the southeast corner of Superior Avenue and Monowau Street. The building contains the Sassy Girl Aroma retail business and upstairs apartments.

Tomah police officers arrived at the scene first and helped clear the upstairs apartments and made sure everyone was out.

Heavy fire and smoke was seen coming from the north side of the building at 1102 Superior Ave. when firefighters arrived, according to a press release from Tomah Fire Chief Tim Adler . The initial report said an explosion may have occurred.

Adler said the fire spread into the adjacent building at 1104 Superior Ave. and there was “significant fire and water damage that occurred and affected at least four of the buildings.”

Assistance was initially requested from the Fort McCoy, Oakdale and town of Lincoln fire departments. Additional resources from more departments was requested as 88 firefighters spent nine hours battling the blaze and were at the scene for 12 hours.

Downtown businesses impacted were Sacred Space, T-Town Nutrition and Sassy Girl Aroma. T-Town Nutrition has already posted a Facebook message saying “We will not be reopening again at our original location of 1106 Superior Ave. “

Ho-Chunk Nation, which operates a museum on the 1100 block, reported on its Facebook page that museum personnel “were able to pull approximately 90% of the collections out of the facility.”

Emergency crews closed off three blocks of Superior Avenue. The street was re-opened Saturday morning, but two blocks of Monowau Street remain closed.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

It’s the fourth fire in downtown Tomah just over three years:

* In November 2020, a fire destroyed Dimensions Bar and several upstairs apartments at 1112 Superior Ave.

* In December 2022, a personal care facility a half block from Superior Avenue caught fire and forced five people to evacuate. The building was a total loss.

* In November 2023, 10 people were displaced from a fire that started above Peking Restaurant.

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