THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
City of Peshtigo fighters responded to a fully engulfed house at 555 Oconto Ave. on Monday, Dec. 2 at 2:33 a.m. Four people escaped the fire and were treated at Aurora Medical Center Bay Area for injuries. Town of Peshtigo and Grover-Porterfield Fire Departments were called in for assistance. Top photo: Shows the home engulfed in flames. Bottom photo: Firefighters are preparing to do mop up after suppressing the fire. Other agencies responding to the fire included Emergency Rescue Squad, Aurora Bay Area Paramedics, Peshtigo Police Department and Wisconsin Public Service.
Occupants of Burning Home In Peshtigo Escape Safely
Issue Date: December 5, 2019
Fire in the early morning hours of Monday, Dec. 2 at 555 Oconto Ave. in Peshtigo completely destroyed the structure and all contents and sent its four occupants, including a 101-year-old woman, to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation and other minor injuries. Heat from the blaze melted siding and cracked windows on a home next door but there was no structural damage.
City of Peshtigo Fire Department was dispatched to the scene by Marinette County's 911 Emergency Dispatch after a call was received at 2:32 a.m. Firefighters arrived 11 minutes later to find the building fully engulfed in flames and everyone who lived there safely outside.
Delores J. Poquette, 63, her son, Jeffrey Poquette, 35 and her mother, Soledad Moreno, 101, and Julie Ledvina had escaped with only the clothes they were wearing. Peshtigo Police Officer Rob Hulce had been on duty. He arrived almost immediately after the fire call was received and helped Jeffery Poquette get Moreno out through a window in her bedroom, which was on the ground floor at the front of the home.
Poquette had cut his hand when he smashed the window. He and the other occupants were taken to Aurora Bay Area Medical Center in Marinette for treatment.
Peshtigo firefighters were on the scene from 2:44 a.m. until nearly 7:51 a.m. on Monday. Efforts to extinguish the blaze were hampered by results of the snowstorm on Saturday and Sunday. City of Peshtigo Fire Chief Steve Anderson said when firefighters arrived they had problems with frozen fire hydrants and downed power lines. Using the MABAS system they called for help from Town of Peshtigo and Grover Porterfield Fire Departments, which sent "tenders" to bring water to the scene until the hydrants were made operable. There were a total of about 30 firefighters on the scene.
Anderson said Delores Poquette told him she had been in the basement using the washer and dryer until about 11:30 p.m., after which she came upstairs and fell asleep in a recliner in the living room. She said she had sort of woken up once when she smelled something like electric wires burning, but had fallen back to sleep and then woke up again when smoke filled the room. She ran to the back door, which is near the basement door and saw the smoke coming from the basement when she pushed it open. She yelled "fire" to wake her son Jeffrey, who had been sleeping, and he in turn called out to Ledvina, who occupied the other upstairs apartment. He made sure Ledvina was awake and leaving the building and then ran to get Soledad. He was able, with help from Hulce, to get himself and his grandmother out through her front bedroom window after he used a metal table to smash out the glass.
Anderson said cause of the fire has not yet been determined and remains under investigation.
Members of the Poquette family are staying temporarily with relatives in Menominee and Ledvina is staying with family members.
The fire victims escaped with only the clothes they were wearing and lost all possessions that had been in their homes. Anderson was told they had no insurance coverage. A "Go Fund Me" account is being established, and City of Peshtigo Mayor Cathi Malke said meanwhile anyone willing to help the fire victims can drop off donations at Peshtigo City Hall.
Delores Poquette wears medium tops, size 8 pants and shoes and boots size 7. Her son, Jeffrey wears a size large jacket and shirt, pants size 30-29 and shoes and boots size 10. The victims will need personal items as well.
The destroyed dwelling was owned by Hannah and Robert Wesner of Sobieski, and Chris and Eugene Frank are owners of the damaged structure next door.