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20 fire departments work to burn down Wisconsin apartment

Posted at 1:10 PM, Mar 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-15 13:59:21-04

More than 20 fire departments are working to burn down a Beaver Dam, Wisconsin apartment building where a deadly explosion happened last week. 

City officials said dangerous chemicals inside of the structure made it too dangerous for residents to re-enter, and that burning the building to the ground is the safest way to prevent any injuries.

"We have carefully reviewed this, and we firmly believe this is the action that needs to be taken, unfortunately," said Beaver Dam Fire Chief Alan Mannel at a Wednesday evening news conference. 

The five, neighboring buildings in the apartment complex were evacuated ahead of Thursday's controlled burn. 

Streets in the area were shut down at 9 a.m.

Around 10 o'clock, firefighters lit both ends of the apartment building at 109 Knaup Dr. on fire and allowed it to burn towards the middle. 

Large shipping containers were placed around building 109 to help contain the heat and flames. 

Mannel said staffing of the fire trucks surrounding the building is minimal, and that firefighters only plan to step in and control the flames if they threatened any of the nearby structures. 

Police on Wednesday identified 28-year old Benjamin Morrow as the man killed in last Monday's blast. 

According to authorities, Morrow lived in one of the units.

Beaver Dam Police Chief John Kreuziger said investigators continue to suspect that Morrow was building a bomb inside of the apartment. 

According to his obituary, Morrow worked in the quality department at Richelieu Foods in Beaver Dam for almost a year. 

His obituary describes him as "a hard worker" who "had a good rapport with all those around him."

Police and the FBI continue to investigate why Morrow was in possession of the volatile chemicals that required them to eventually burn the building down.

Kreuziger on Wednesday declined to comment on what the chemicals inside of the apartment were. 

City officials said the plan is for evacuated residents to be allowed back into their homes this evening. That's also when they plan to re-open nearby streets. 

The EPA has placed air monitoring devices in the area. Mannel said the EPA can also test the air in individual apartments within the evacuation zone at the request of residents.