Fire destroys building for children with severe emotional, behavioral needs

Drivers on I-41 reported the smoke and flames from Macht Village Programs
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 7:17 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2023 at 5:17 PM CST
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BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Firefighters have departed after battling a fire for nearly 11 hours at a business that helps children and young people who have special emotional and behavioral needs.

The scene is located at Macht Village Programs in the 3300 block of Mid Valley Drive in Lawrence.

A large amount of smoke could be seen from I-41 in Brown County. Drivers called to report the fire at about 6:30 a.m.

“Upon arrival we got here there was heavy smoke and flames coming from the roof of the building,” Lawrence Assistant Fire Chief Luke Pasterski told us.

Crews attempted to do a primary search of the building but had to pull out as the building started to collapse.

“There was no lights on. We couldn’t see anyone inside. We attempted to put crews inside of the building to do a primary search for people,” Pasterski said.

They weren’t inside for very long.

“The backside of the building started to collapse and the crews immediately pulled out of the building for safety reasons,” Pasterski said. “As the fire progressed, more and more parts of the building continued to collapse.”

“We did get a call from a keyholder -- a business owner -- who confirmed there should be no one in the building at the time.”

It was upgraded to a 3-alarm fire, meaning fire crews from all over Brown County were called in to help.

Crews moved to a defensive fight to prevent the fire from spreading to other buildings.

There are no reports of injuries.

A Department of Transportation traffic camera showed heavy smoke and flames just south of County Road S. CLICK HERE to view the DOT traffic cameras. It slowed traffic in both directions of travel. Paterski said he heard there was at least one accident on the interstate at the time.

Mid Valley Drive frontage road was closed between Golden Glow and Freedom Roads.

The Brown County Fire Investigation Task Force is now working to figure out where and how the fire started.

A restoration company is on the scene boarding up the building.