Space heater believed to be cause
By Scott Bellile
Three pets died and three families were displaced after a fire destroyed a quarter of a building complex at Poppy’s Flying Acres Airport last weekend.
The fire occurred at N4176 Faskell Road in the town of Mukwa around noon Saturday, March 11.
The fire killed two cats and a parakeet and damaged what could be up to $100,000 in property, according to a news release from New London Fire Department.
A neighbor reported smoke billowing from a garage attached to an apartment building. New London Fire Department arrived to heavy smoke and flames.
An electrical portable space heater appears to be the cause, but that remains under investigation. The tenants of the property with the space heater were not home at the time of the fire, New London Fire Capt. Don Conat said.
“It appears right now that it is not suspicious, but the insurance companies sometimes send a fire investigator when there is a large loss like this [to confirm that],” Conat said.
The fire destroyed one apartment and the garage attached to it as well as a warehouse for a discontinued business, Poppy’s Plumbing and Heating. The warehouse was full of supplies.
The building complex additionally holds a second apartment, the former EAA Chapter 444 meeting room that is inhabited by a third family, and large storage areas. One storage area sustained smoke damage while the areas housing the other two families were not damaged.
New London firefighters remained at the scene of the fire for five hours. Seven fire departments – Weyauwega, Hortonville-Hortonia, Clintonville, Bear Creek, Manawa, Shiocton and Ogdensburg – responded and worked with New London to contain the fire to a quarter of the building. The use of an aerial ladder prevented the fire’s spread to the rest of the building, Conat said.
The American Red Cross offered hotel stays to the three families displaced by the fire. The two families living in the undamaged buildings can return once electricity is restored, Conat said.
Although their part of the building wasn’t damaged, this is the second residential fire Lisa Bastian, her husband Curt and their five children experienced in the last month.
The Bastians are renting the former EAA meeting room for living space because their house down the street on Flying Acres Court sustained heavy damage on Feb. 8 due to a grease fire.
The February fire took out their kitchen. Smoke and heat damaged the whole house and water damaged the lower level. They have an estimated six more weeks before they can move back home to Flying Acres Court.
“It’s a little dumbfounding,” Lisa Bastian said of Saturday’s fire. “One doesn’t ever imagine living through one fire because it’s just something you don’t think of, let alone having to come home to a second one. It’s just a little bit of a shock.”
As for the family displaced by the fire, “We definitely, definitely feel for them. They’ve got three little ones and it’s going to be a hard road, so hopefully they get help and they can bounce back from this. It’s definitely a tough situation to be in.”
The Bastians were off enjoying a “family fun day” at the time of last weekend’s fire, but their dogs stayed behind in the meeting room. Although the fire did not spread to the meeting room, a neighbor went in and freed them.
“That was pretty awesome,” Lisa Bastian said. “[It’s] nice to have awesome neighbors.”