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Fire destroys New London home

NLFD responds to three fires on Saturday

By Scott Bellile

A home is a total loss following a house fire on the east side of New London Saturday, June 10.

Damage to the house, owned by Bruce and Tami Wolfgram, could reach $250,000, according to a New London Fire Department news release.

Bruce Wolfgram suffered a minor burn to his arm and was treated and released by paramedics, New London Fire Capt. Don Conat told the Press Star.

The house is located at 515 Fremont St., across the street from the former Simmons factory.

New London Fire Department was dispatched to the Wolfgrams’ residence at 11:55 a.m. When the first fire engine arrived two minutes later, the west side of the house was engulfed in fire and the flames had reached the roof.

The flames spread to the east wall of a home next door at 517 E. Beacon Ave., owned by Richard Heimbruch. Firefighters tended to Heimbruch’s house before the Wolfgrams’ to prevent further spread of the fire.

Heimbruch’s east wall was visibly melted. Damage to his property is estimated to range from $10,000 to $20,000.

Bruce Wolfgram told firefighters he initially smelled smoke and went to discover his hot tub cover was on fire. He attempted to extinguish the fire, but strong winds blew the flames onto the house.

The cause remains under investigation, Conat said Monday, June 12.

Firefighters from Hortonville-Hortonia Fire District, Dale Fire Department and Weyauwega Area Fire Department assisted New London through the two-and-a-half-hour battle as outdoor temperatures reached 90 degrees. Shiocton-Bovina Fire Department manned New London’s fire station for the afternoon.

The home contained Tami Wolfgram’s art studio. It was formerly home to a dessert shop called Laura’s Confection Connection, which operated from 2013 to 2015.

Kevin Muskevitsch, a neighbor on East Cook Street, said he was in his backyard pool with his wife and son when he noticed smoke. Muskevitsch said within five minutes, the fire spread from the side of the house to the entire structure.

“It was just black. You couldn’t see the old Simmons or nothing. It was insane,” Muskevitsch said.

He speculated if NLFD had arrived 10 minutes later, Heimbruch’s house could have burned down, too.

“By the time the fire trucks rode up, those flames had to have been at least as high as the [aerial] ladder guys,” Muskevitsch said. “And it was just hot as could be. I couldn’t believe the heat I could feel here.

“It makes me sick to my stomach,” Muskevitsch said of the sight of the destruction.

More fires keep NLFD busy

At 3:13 p.m., when Conat said NLFD just returned to the fire station downtown, firefighters were dispatched across the street to a car fire outside Festival Foods, 308 N. Shawano St.

The 1999 Oldsmobile Cutlass was destroyed. It was driven by Lisa Bellile, who was in the store shopping at the time the fire occurred.

The dashboard inside the front passenger compartment was on fire when firefighters arrived. They extinguished the fire and prevented the flames from spreading to a car parked next to it.

Then Saturday night, New London assisted Weyauwega Area Fire Department with a house fire on North Shore Road in Weyauwega. The fire also required the efforts of fire departments from Manawa, Waupaca, Fremont, West Bloomfield, Poy Sippi, Wild Rose and Iola.

John Faucher contributed reporting to this article.

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