By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Jul 14, 2010 at 11:18 PM

UPDATED: 12:58 a.m. -- The Milwaukee Fire Department responded to a three-alarm fire Wednesday night at a Downtown high-rise apartment.

The first calls came in shortly before 11 p.m.  when a sprinkler alarm sounded at Applebee's, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave. Moments after, a call came in from the Majestic Lofts Apartments, located next to Applebee's at 231 W. Wisconsin Ave.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, they found a swarm of people in the building's smoke-filled lobby, with more coming down the stairs.

"It was quite chaotic," MFD Battalion 1 Chief Aaron Lipski said. "We had a lot of people heading to the streets coughing with runny eyes and difficulty breathing."

The fire broke out when several basement light fixtures caught fire, filling the lower floors of the 14-story building with smoke.

Ritwick Kumar and his wife were on the 13th floor when they noticed flickering lights around 10:45 p.m. When the lights went out, the fire alarm sounded.

At first, Kumar thought it was a false alarm.

"When it kept going, we called the management company and they told us to get someplace safe," Kumar said.

The fire department reported the fire was under control at 11:56 p.m. 

Seven people were treated on the scene for smoke-related injuries. Five were transferred to area hospitals. A number of residents were still seeking shelter under nearby buildings and in the lobby of area hotels.

"We were told it would be very, very late before we could return," said Kumar. 

Wisconsin Avenue was closed between North 4th Street and Plankinton Avenue.