(Reuters) – At least seven people died early on Friday in a predawn apartment fire in suburban Milwaukee that authorities were investigating as a possible arson, police said.
The blaze was reported shortly after 5 a.m. in a four-unit apartment house in the village of Hartland, Wisconsin, about 25 miles east of Milwaukee, the town’s police chief, Torin Misko, said in a media briefing at the scene.
Police and fire department crews called to the scene “were met with large amounts of fire and began to rescue individuals from the building and balconies of the building,” Misko said.
“This is an active criminal investigation,” Misko told reporters, adding that Hartland police were being assisted by the state fire marshal’s office, the Wisconsin crime lab, the local sheriff’s department and other agencies.
Asked if authorities had any indication that the fire was deliberately set, Misko said, “that’s what we’re looking into at this moment.”
Misko said at least seven people had perished in the blaze but he had no immediate information about the victims or the precise circumstances of their deaths.
Personnel from 15 area fire departments and nine police departments responded to the incident, he said.
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