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MADISON, Wis. - The fire department said the "powerful" fire the took down a large apartment building last week on damaged more than a dozen nearby homes and melted parts of the fire engine.

Madison Fire spokeswoman Bernadette Galvez said Thursday that crews responding to the fire last Friday night worked to wet down homes near the four-floor structure that was emitting heat hot enough to melt parts of a fire engine and cracking windows in adjacent buildings. The fire at a building under construction on the 500 block of Apollo Way was initially reported by drivers seeing smoke and flames from Interstate 90 at about 7:30 p.m., officials said last week.

"The radiant heat from the fire was so intense that firefighter air packs were hot to the touch, fire gear started to melt and fire engine tires were smoking," Galvez said Thursday. "This powerful fire would burn any exposed skin if not covered."

Galvez said crews arriving to the scene could feel heat from the blaze 100 feet away through the fire engine windshield. Parts of the engine can be seen melted and warped in photos provided by the Madison Fire Department.

Images of nearby homes showed melted, rippled siding the department said was caused by radiant heat.

The building complex that burned is a total loss estimated at $3.5 million to $5 million.

The fire investigation continued Thursday, Galvez said.

Heat from fire damages 14 nearby homes, fire engine

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