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Fire engulfs home near New London

Fire displaces family on Larry Road

By Scott Bellile

A New Year’s Day house fire on Larry Road in Mukwa is believed to have been caused by a stove.

The fire started sometime around 3 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 1, at the home of Brett and Janalea Romberg, N4333 Larry Rd. Nobody was home at the time it started and there were no injuries.

Firefighters were continuing to fight the blaze into the evening and weren’t available to comment on the extent of the damage. It appeared to be heavily damaged or destroyed.

Fire departments responded from New London, Weyauwega, Clintonville, Manawa, Shiocton-Bovina, Bear Creek and Ogdensburg.

Brett’s mother Sandy Romberg, who lives next door, said she was in her yard around 2:30 p.m. that afternoon and saw nothing unusual at the house. Brett arrived home from work around 3 p.m. to the sight of smoke, she said. He went around to see the back side of the house engulfed in flames. He called 911.

Neighbor Dawn McGlin and her partner Nick Belongia were across the street at her home when they saw the Rombergs’ house smoking out the window. They said a county sheriff parked on the street and ran down the driveway and so the couple went over to make sure no one needed to be rescued.

“It was unreal,” Belongia said. “The roof was just engulfed and the back wall.”

“You could hear [the fire] just blowing out of the roof,” Belongia said.

“How devastating,” neighbor Dawn McGlin said. “They’re such good people.”

Authorities ordered everyone to evacuate the scene when the Rombergs’ hunting guns inside the home started shooting on their own, Belongia said.

Brett built the home about 20 years ago according to Sandy. The pellet stove was added to the home a year or two ago.

Steffan Rockwell, who lives nearby the Rombergs, said he heard fire departments being called to Mukwa on the police scanner and raced over. He said the sky was filled with smoke.

Rockwell said it was upsetting to see the house burn because he watched Brett build it years ago.

“He put a lot of work into that house,” Rockwell said. “I saw it actually go up.”

Sandy said she was thankful Brett has a knowledge of backdrafts and knew not to open a door upon his arrival, otherwise he could have been seriously hurt by an explosion.

Brett and Janalea’s 12-year-old son Mason attends school in New London and has special needs, Sandy said, and the boy’s equipment was lost in the fire.

Temporary arrangements have been made for the family, she said.

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