Leaf fire leaves town resident homeless

Burning debris outside rural residence sparks intense blaze that destroys property, melts fire hose

A FIRE ON North Port Washington Road in the Town of Grafton displaced a property owner who was burning leaves on Thursday, Dec. 10. Multiple area fire departments assisted the Grafton department at the scene. Grafton Fire Chief Bill Rice said the property owner was burned but refused to be transported to a hospital.
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

A Town of Grafton man was displaced from his home after burning leaves next to his property led to a dangerous fire that was extinguished by several area departments.

Multiple passers-by reported a large blaze at 2004 N. Port Washington Rd. at approximately 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10.

Grafton Fire Chief Bill Rice said firefighters had the fire under control within 15 minutes of arrival, but there were challenges in accessing the site.  

Also responding to the scene were fire departments from Port Washington, Saukville, Fredonia, Cedarburg, Thiensville and Mequon. Rice said departments from Waubeka and North Shore came to the Grafton station to respond to other calls because more than 20 department members were at the scene of the fire.

Rice said the property owner received burns from the blaze but refused to be transported to a hospital. The Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office referred the man to the American Red Cross for lodging.

“It’s not a typical property. There are abandoned vehicles, extensive amounts of stored rubbish and debris,” Rice said, noting there were five campers on the land as well as multiple vehicles and a boat.

Rice said the property owner, who was living in one of the campers adjacent to a shed that had multiple lean-to structures attached, was burning leaves that were left unattended.

“All the debris and rubbish surrounding the structure was burning,” Rice said. “Everything collapsed, and we essentially had a rubbish fire of plywood and shingles. 

“It was one of those properties where a person collected a lot of stuff.”

Rice said firefighters faced hazardous conditions as they crawled through debris and rubbish. The fire, he noted, burned through one of their hoses. 

“That created a pretty dangerous circumstance,” Rice said. “That’s the type of thing that doesn’t happen in a typical fire, but due to these conditions it became a hazard.  They had to evacuate and replace the hose.”

Rice also said it was a challenge transporting water to the scene because there are no nearby hydrants in the town.

“All the water that was needed had to be brought in by water tenders,” he said, noting additional water was brought in by the Port Washington, Saukville and  Cedarburg departments.

Rice said the Ozaukee County Highway Department brought a front loader to the site to clear debris.

“This fire took a lot of hard work and effort from our neighboring departments,” Rice said. “Luckily, everyone was safe, but this fire was very unique and posed a lot of hazards for our crews.”

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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