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Firefighter sniffs out house fire just in time PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Wednesday, 10 January 2018 18:45

He smelled smoke in area after returning from practice

    Port Washington firefighters had a busy Monday night, attending not only the department practice but also fighting a chimney fire afterward.
    Fire Chief Mark Mitchell said firefighter Andrew Klopp went home from practice about 9:45 p.m. and smelled smoke in his Division Street neighborhood.
    He looked outside and saw smoke pouring from the roof of the house at 231 S. Division Street, Mitchell said. After calling 911, Klopp hurried to the house and notified the owners, Durand and Catherine Prescher, of the fire.
    While the Preschers quickly left the house, Klopp grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to put out the fire, Mitchell said.
    When Assistant Fire Chief Steve Schmidt got to the house, he saw flames coming out of the attic around the chimney, he said.
    “It was a very labor intensive fire,” Mitchell said, noting much of the fire was on the roof and in a void between the roof and the second-floor ceiling.
    Firefighters had to open the roof up and pull down the ceiling in the second-floor bedroom to reach the fire, Mitchell said.
    Fire crews from Saukville, Cedarburg, Grafton and Belgium aided at the scene, while the Fredonia and Thiensville departments stood by at the fire house, he said.
    No one was hurt fighting the fire, Mitchell said, and it took firefighters about two hours to finish at the scene.
    Mitchell said officials believe a vent pipe from a freestanding wood-burning fireplace had over time “baked” the wood surrounding it near the roof, lowering the temperature at which it would ignite.
    “We suspect over the years the wood in the roof and structure baked to the point it finally ignited,” he said. “You don’t need a flame.”
    There was considerable damage to the house, Mitchell said. There was considerable charring to the roof structure and ceiling, and water traveled through the ceiling into the first floor. Firefighters tried to shield items on the first floor as much as possible, he said.
    The damage was largely limited to the front of the house, and a new roof will probably need to be installed, he added.
    “The guys did a great job,” Mitchell said. “It was just a tough, labor-intensive job to get to the fire.”
    Earlier Monday night, firefighters were called to 131 N. Park St., where a lateral water main apparently broke, causing water to leak inside the building.
    Property owner John Weinrich shut off the water inside the building, Mitchell said, while the city’s street department shut the water off at the street.Daily Press