Residents of 109 Knaup Drive Beaver Dam will only be able to watch Wednesday as the building housing their apartments and belongings is destroyed by fire.
Around 20 area fire departments will be in Beaver Dam to assist with the controlled burn of the building, where an explosion around 1 p.m. on March 5 blew out the windows of Unit 11 and led to evacuation of nearby apartment buildings.
The body of the man who died in the March 5 explosion was removed before a second planned detonation of leftover explosive materials in the apartment March 7. An additional third explosion occurred March 8, which led to great concerns about the building.
Beaver Dam Police Chief John Kreuziger said they still have not positively identified the remains of the body in the building.
“There is no known link to terrorism at this time, but we are still investigating,” Kreuziger said.
Area emergency personnel have been trying to find a plan for the building for the last eight days. It even put a damper on the Beaver Dam Fire Department escorting the state championship Beaver Dam High School girls basketball team into town Sunday.
“We were on our way but then someone smelled smoke at the 109 Knaup Drive address,” Beaver Dam Fire Chief Alan Mannel said.
Residents returned to the other buildings in the Village Glen apartments after the second, planned explosion, but they were told during a meeting Sunday that they would need to evacuate from the apartment complex Wednesday for the controlled burn. They will be evacuated by 9 a.m.
Mannel said they are still finalizing plans for Wednesday, but they will intentionally light the building on fire on Wednesday at 9 a.m. The thermal destruction process will begin with both ends of the building being lit up and letting the building burn as long as possible.
“The heat is what is needed to degrade the chemicals,” Mannel said.
The firefighters will react to protect the area buildings and drones that can detect the heat on the buildings will be used in helping to protect the area buildings, Mannel said.
The smoke that is created by the fire will be no more hazardous than the smoke from other fires, Mannel said.
There will be a temporary flight restriction for 2 and a half miles by 1,000 feet around the apartment complex.
“Civilians drones should be grounded on Wednesday for the safety of everyone involved,” Kreuziger said.
Roads will be closed at 9 a.m. within the area of Knaup Drive, North Spring Street from Woodland Drive to Industrial Drive East and Industrial Drive East to Highway 151 (but not including Highway 151).
The area will affect the access to businesses on North Spring Street that do not have access to a secondary driveway into the area, such as Kohl’s Department Store, Aldi's Grocery Store and Taco Bell. Other businesses such as Mills Fleet Farm have a secondary entrance that can be used.
The Beaver Dam Police Department Facebook page will be updated when the roads are opened up and when residents are allowed back in their homes.
“We are anticipating it will happen at some point in the evening,” Mannel said.
After the fire, the ash will be tested for explosives and other contaminants, Mannel said.
Mannel said there was only one other similar incident in the country like this that occurred several years ago in California.
“This is very atypical,” Mannel said. “It is new ground for all of us.”
Search warrants were filed in Dodge County Circuit Court on March 5 and the findings were sealed. According to a document on file with the Dodge County Courts, they are sealed for the protection of the investigation so as to not alert potential co-actors of the ongoing investigation and its findings.
Beaver Dam City Council approved a resolution Monday night declaring a state of disaster for the 109 Knaup Drive building and asking for Dodge County and state of Wisconsin assistance.