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Wis. family loses home in Monday morning fire

Four people escaped this town of Salem home when a fire broke out in the early morning hours of Monday, Feb. 12. The home and its possessions are a total loss. Nancy Long / RiverTown Multimedia

TOWN OF SALEM -- A family of four lost its home in a fire early Monday morning in the town of Salem, escaping with the clothes on their backs, said a family friend.

Ellsworth Fire Chief Brent Langer said crews were called just after midnight Feb. 12 to the two-story wood-framed home between Plum City and Ellsworth on Highway 10. The home was ablaze when firefighters arrived. Langer said the occupants told him the home was “fully engulfed within two minutes.”

“They woke up because of the smell and the noise of the crackling,” Langer said.

Family friend Lori Seipel said Roger LaPorte and Tina Goss, along with their two teenage children, were sleeping when the fire broke out. Smoke alarms were sounding, but Goss told Seipel that everything happened so fast; they left the house with the pajamas they were wearing. Their daughter, 16, is a sophomore at Plum City High School, while their son, 13, is in at eighth grade at Plum City Middle School.

The home, located at W3701 Highway 10 at the bottom of what is known locally as the Wieser Hill, is a total loss, Seipel said. Langer confirmed, saying the second story and roof fell into the first story. Goss didn’t have time to put on a pair of shoes; instead of grabbing shoes, she saved a family dog by throwing it out the window, Seipel added.

“Nothing is left of the upstairs,” Seipel said. “Looking at the outside doesn’t do it justice.”

While no people were injured in the fire, a dog and cat died in the blaze.

Along with the home itself, the family lost everything, Seipel said. She is organizing an effort to collect household items and money for the family, which is staying at a hotel.

“Nothing is salvageable,” she said. “They need everything from cereal bowls to beds.”

Anyone interested in donating items can call Seipel at 715-307-1121. A fund has been set up at Waumandee State Bank (308 Third Ave. W., Durand) to collect monetary donations. For those who wish to give money, the funds can be directed to the “LaPorte Family” account.

Langer said firefighters were on the scene until about 4:30 a.m. Temperatures at that time hovered around 0, which caused some of the valves to freeze on the trucks. The crews used 45,000 gallons of water to fight the blaze. Plum City Fire Department sent one tender to assist Ellsworth firefighters.

While the fire’s cause remains under investigation, the owners suspect it may have been a pellet stove, though that cannot be confirmed at this time, Langer said.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in February 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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