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Madison fire crews respond to 3 near-simultaneous structure fires

Madison fire crews responded to three near-simultaneous structure fires between 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday, officials said.

First crews were dispatched around 6:30 p.m. to 605 Elmside Blvd. for reports of an odor of smoke and haze in a house, according to a release. Firefighters could smell an electrical odor and noticed a slight haze in the kitchen when they arrived.

A thermal imaging camera did not detect any hotspots and crews determined the smoke was coming from the refrigerator motor, officials said. An electrician was called to assist at the scene.

The second, and most serious fire, happened at 725 Pulley Drive around 6:35 p.m., according to the release. A neighbor saw smoke and flames come from the home. The occupants were not home at the time.

Arson investigators look into fire that displaced 15

Arson investigators are looking into a fire on Madison's east side Wednesday night that destroyed four townhouses and displaced 15 people, officials said.

Crews were dispatched to reports of an active structure fire at 9 Loomis Circle just before 7:30 p.m., according to Dane County Dispatch.

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When firefighters arrived they saw flames in the roofline and heavy fire in the back of the building, Madison Fire Department spokeswoman Lori Wirth said.

Nine occupants were displaced by the first fire, but no one was injured, officials said.

As firefighters were doing a safety check from the first fire, they realized that fire had traveled into the attic of an adjacent building.

A full fire response was called again, and the second fire was put out. However, another six residents were displaced by the second fire.

MPD: Smash-and-grab thefts from vehicles increase in downtown area

The Madison Police Department is asking residents to do their part in preventing smash-and-grab thefts from vehicles, according to a release.

There has been an increase in smash-and-grab thefts in the downtown area, police said. Most of the thefts reported have occurred in the early-morning hours.

Officials said there has also been an increase in thefts from unlocked vehicles throughout the city.

In smash-and grab-thefts, the perpetrator usually looks into the vehicle and if there are backpacks, laptops or other valuables visible they break the window with a rock, and reach in and take the item, police said.

With unlocked vehicle thefts, robbers check car doors and make entry when the cars are unlocked, according to the release. Unlocked vehicle thefts have been reported at any time of the day or night.

Police remind everyone to keep valuables out of sight or to take them with you when you lock your vehicle.

Suspected 'McGyver' bomb at school inert, authorities say

Suspected 'McGyver' bomb at school inert, authorities say

Authorities said a suspected "McGyver" bomb found near an east side Madison school Tuesday night turned out not to be a safety hazard. Police said the department did not believe students or staff at the school were in danger.

The Madison fire and police departments said a custodian found a suspicious plastic soda bottle at Hawthorne Elementary School on Concord Avenue at 7:11 p.m.

The fire department said the 20-ounce bottle of diet soda half full with a purple liquid was in the school's parking lot.

Police officers were first on scene first and coned off the area. A fire department hazardous incident team member thought the bottle appeared to be a "McGyver" bomb and that the purple liquid might be toilet bowl cleaner, according to a release from the fire department. Police said there have been cases where liquid-filled plastic bottle have contained harmful household chemicals which can explode under certain conditions.

Man pulled gun in road rage incident, police say

A Madison man was arrested Tuesday after police said he pointed a gun at another driver in a a road rage incident.

The Madison Police Department said two motorists on the West Beltline Highway near Fish Hatchery Road were unhappy with each other's driving at about 3:20 p.m.

Police said 47-year-old Deron McBride claims a 27-year-old Monroe man cut him off near Stoughton Road.

According to the report, both drivers sped up and slowed down on the Beltline, keeping pace with one another. McBride told police the other driver gave him the finger and yelled at him. McBride took a picture of the other man with his cellphone.

McBride responded to the victim's yelling by displaying his handgun. That's when the other driver slowed down and called 911. He told police the license plate number of the car and police said officers used that information to track down McBride.

City launches racial equity, social justice initiative

The city of Madison is launching its own racial equity and social justice initiative.

City leaders are hoping this new program will further help the community?s focus to eliminate racial and social inequities, especially when it comes to employment, improving struggling neighborhoods and closing the education gap.

According to a release, commitment to the racial equity and social justice initiative means equity considerations will be integral to major decisions in an effort to achieve equitable allocation of resources.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said the new initiative will be partnered with other programs to promote social justice in Madison.

Some of the initiatives created prior to and since launching the initiative include reviewing minimum qualifications for applicant screening, the Ban the Box Initiative, using panels to interview candidates, increasing diversity of the applicant pool for seasonal positions and adding youth internship programs.

Local filmmakers mix politics and horror genre

Local filmmakers mix politics and horror genre

People may come for the politics, but they will stay for the gore. That’s what director and lover of the horror genre Adam Schabow hopes as he makes the low-budget, independent zombie film New World Horror around Wisconsin this summer.

The unique horror movie, complete with Tea Party zombies, is set to begin filming in mid-May. Shooting will take place in Janesville, Milwaukee and Madison, and Schabow hopes to gain access to the capital for filming.

New World Horror has already received pushback from the conservative right.

Schabow said that the “knee-jerk” reaction to the pre-production film fits a theme found in the movie: Don’t judge a book (or in this case, movie) by its cover (or teaser poster). “It’s interesting because that is definitely one of the themes of the movie and we’re seeing it play out,” he said.