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MFD sprinkler

An automatic fire sprinkler inside this furnace utility closet kept a fire from the furnace from spreading into the rest of the apartment on Madison's West Side.

An automatic fire sprinkler in a utility closet kept a furnace fire in check Wednesday afternoon, with nobody injured in the Southwest Side blaze.

The fire was reported at about 2:25 p.m. at the Stone Creek Gardens apartment complex in the 6700 block of Mader Drive, the Madison Fire Department said.

"Nobody was home when multiple passersby began seeing flames outside the apartment along Maple Grove Road," said MFD spokeswoman Cynthia Schuster.

Arriving fire crews found fire on the exterior of the building near a second-story balcony.

"Ladder Co. 7 knocked down the exterior fire, and other crews went inside to investigate whether that fire had extended to the inside," Schuster said.

Crews discovered an automatic fire sprinkler in the furnace utility closet had activated, keeping the fire from spreading into the apartment, containing the fire to the utility closet.

All occupants of the building were allowed to return to their apartments, except for the people living in the affected apartment and the apartment directly below it.

Damage was estimated to be $25,000.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.