KENOSHA — A Kenosha Fire Department official said a fire that broke out at the former Dairyland Greyhound Park was the result of arson.
Battalion Chief Matthew Haerter said the fire, which was reported at 8 p.m. April 2, was started intentionally and fire officials and police have begun a criminal investigation into the incident.
“Arson is confirmed. We know somebody set this. There’s no electrical to the building. There’s no lighting to the area ... Somebody came in and set this,” he said at a press conference held outside the site at the blocked-off intersection of 111th Avenue and 60th Street.
Haerter said as of April 2 no individuals had been located inside the building.
“However, it is very obvious people were indeed inside, because there’s no points or places or aspects that could actually cause this to occur on its own,” he said.
The Kenosha Fire Department and fire personnel from other municipalities continued to battle the fire at Dairyland, 5522 104th Acce., into the early hours of April 3.
The fire was reported by a resident who lives across from the shuttered structure and track, which closed in 2009.
“My daughter called it in,” said the woman who noticed the fire. “She thought she saw smoke as it got dark, and she saw out of one of the windows an orange glow.”
She said the glow was coming from the second story of the building.
She said smoke didn’t appear to be billowing out, but that firefighters were at the scene “within minutes” of the call to them.
When firefighters arrived, the building — which is being demolished to make way for an industrial park — was reportedly “fully involved” in flames on multiple levels.
Haerter said because of the demolition status of the building, it had holes in the floors and missing walls. A portion of the building on the west side had collapsed, making initial extinguishing of the fire difficult.
Haerter said 100 fire personnel were on scene, including multiple teams of structural firefighters and “collapse technicians” with the Kenosha County Specialized Response Team.
The California-based owners of the former dog track secured a permit from the city in late December to tear down the building, with plans to redevelop the 228-acre site as a business park.
Majestic Realty Co. purchased the property in September 2017 for $14.5 million.
Demolition of the structure began last month.
At the time of the sale, the developer said the property would be rebranded as the Majestic Midwest Innovation Center. It could eventually house some 2 million square feet of buildings.
The greyhound park was once considered for development of a controversial casino, a plan that was ultimately rejected by then-Gov. Scott Walker. It closed in 2009 after many years of declining attendance.