Just two months after a fire ravaged Arcadia’s
110-year-old Hotel & Tap building, another fire
ripped through the Hotel & Tap in Independence.
This time, it isn’t just the loss of an historic
structure and personal belongings that people will
mourn: as of Monday, at least three victims were found
amidst the rubble of the building that caught fire
early Sunday morning.
Victims names were not released as of Tuesday.
The fire began just before 6 a.m. on Sunday, February
Keith Edison, owner of Edison Funeral Home in Independence,
was one of the first ones to see the fire.
“When I arrived, I was at the front of the
hotel and I could see fire on the bottom floor,”
he said. “It wasn’t long at all and it
was just a big poof and the entire building went up.”
Edison said more people showed up as the fire surged
throughout the morning and much of the afternoon.
“Everyone was just awestruck by what was going
on,” he said. “The number one thing everybody
hoped was that nobody was in it.”
Unfortunately, like Arcadia’s old hotel, the
Independence Hotel & Tap was most recently being
used for apartment housing, meaning tenants were occupying
the complex at the time of the fire.
Several of these tenants were able to escape the
blaze. Four safely exited the building using the second
story fire escape, while two others exited out a second
story window and stood on a nearby roof until they
could be rescued by fire department personnel, said
Derrick Vold, Independence Police Chief.
It is unclear how many tenants were living in the
apartments or how many people were in the building
at the time of the fire, but
according to Vold, all of the tenants of the building
have been accounted for and the search for victims
According to witness statements from the Winona Daily
News, the majority of the residents were Hispanic
immigrants, several of whom took refuge in the nearby
Iglesia Hispana pentecostes church
Vold said Tuesday that the cause of the fire is still
unknown but at this time there is no reason to believe
it was caused by foul play.
The Wisconsin State Fire Marshall’s Office
was on scene Tuesday to assist the investigation.