Explosive materials inside a Beaver Dam apartment where an explosion killed a man Monday are slowing the investigation and cleanup.
“It was not a meth lab in there,” Beaver Dam Police Chief John Kreuziger said Tuesday during a press conference, clearing up some rumors. “There is an explosive chemical inside the apartment that caused the additional evacuation.”
A blast blew out the windows in unit 11 at 109 Knaup Drive around 1 p.m. Monday and led to evacuation of the building in the Village Glen apartments. The evacuation of additional apartments was announced around 7 p.m.
Desiree Turner lives next door to the apartment, but was not home on Monday afternoon. She said her fiancé saw the man who moved in once but said he didn’t talk to him. The man seemed quiet and looked down.
“There wasn’t any strange smells or anything,” Turner said. “We didn’t notice even when the old neighbor was gone and the new one moved in.”
Kreuziger said Tuesday that the man’s body is under building material and had not been removed from the room he was found in.
“It appears to look like he was making bombs because of the explosion,” Kreuziger said. “We are presuming that is what he was doing, but we don’t know.”
The man whose name is on the lease, who has yet to be identified as the deceased in the apartment, began renting the apartment two months ago and was not known by local law enforcement, Kreuziger said.
Photos from the scene were sent to the FBI, which has agents in Beaver Dam assisting with the investigation. FBI officials determined from the photos that there are explosive materials in the apartment.
In addition, officials from the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation, the Dane County Bomb Squad and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have been at the scene.
“We have been working on a plan to attack the apartment,” Kreuziger said. “We do have explosive materials in the apartment.”
Currently, there is a plan to clear out the man’s garage before handling the apartment and Kreuziger said some of the work will involve using robots.
“The plan is we are working on the garage where there are chemicals in as well,” Kreuziger said. “Next, we will go to the apartment and remove the deceased before we get the chemicals out of the apartment.”
Up to 17 buildings were evacuated, but the evacuation was narrowed Tuesday, allowing many are residents to get back in their homes. Residents in the Village Glen Apartments, Key Stone Manor and Prairie Ridge Assisting Facility have not been allowed to return.
Kreuziger said Tuesday morning he does not know when the residents of those buildings will be let back in, but said it could be up to another day. Media will be alerted when the evacuations are over.
The American Red Cross has been providing assistance to residents. Many have found temporary housing with family and friends. In addition, the Waukesha County Salvation Army responded with a food truck and has been providing meals and beverages to the emergency responders.
The 109 Knaup Drive building has structural damage, Kreuziger said. The building is owned by a limited liability corporation with William Graper listed as the registered agent.