By Bob Uphues
Brookfield's fire chief said that investigators believe a smoldering mulch pile next to a garage in the 3500 block of Harrison Avenue ignited a fire that destroyed that structure and a vehicle parked inside on the night of May 19.
Emergency personnel responded to 3535 Harrison Ave. at about 7:20 p.m. and observed flames consuming the east side of the frame garage, which faces the alley separating rear yards of homes on that block and Raymond Avenue.
"When we arrived we found the garage heavily involved with fire," said Fire Chief Jim Adams. "It was impinging on the electric service wire to the house, but it didn't fall."
A neighbor who saw the flames called 911 but told investigators she did not know how it started. No one who lived nearby reported any suspicious activity prior to the fire igniting.
One of the homeowners reportedly told police that he had a "waste basket" on the east side of the garage, which might have been the origin of the fire. Adams described it as a mulch pile, possibly in some sort of container.
"Those can get pretty hot, and under the right conditions can self-combust," Adams said.
An investigation conducted by police and the fire department determined the fire ignited accidentally. Heat also did minor damage to the garage across the alley.
Firefighters were on scene for a little over an hour, according to Adams.