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Nearly 100 residents of a transitional housing apartment building that caught fire Friday night have returned to the facility at 306 N. Brooks St. near the UW-Madison campus.

However, 16 women whose rooms were too severely damaged will move around the corner to St. Francis House Episcopal Student Center, said Dave Black, a St. Francis House board member. Black said the church plans to deconstruct the residential part of its building soon to make way for a student housing project, but for now, the building has enough vacant living space — including bedrooms, a kitchen and showers — to accommodate the women.

Contractors and volunteers Saturday morning repaired the building's fire alarm system and began cleaning the units, both preconditions before residents could be allowed back in, said Madison fire spokesman Eric Dahl. As of 3:30 p.m., the building had been released back to Porchlight officials, Dahl said.

Three people were taken to a hospital and as many as 100 residents were displaced by the fire, which reportedly started in a group kitchen around 6:30 p.m. Friday. Dahl said an early damage estimate was around $750,000. The fire's cause has not been determined, he said.

Red Cross spokesman Dan Kehoe said 40 people took advantage of a temporary shelter opened Friday night at West High School for the displaced residents.

Karla Jameson, Porchlight's director of services, said the agency is accepting donations of money, bedding, women's personal hygiene items and winter clothing for the women whose living quarters were most heavily damaged.

"These 16 formerly homeless women lost everything that they have," Jameson said.

To help, call 608-257-2534 or make a donation at porchlightinc.org.

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