Fire departments burn down farmhouse
By Scott Bellile
The Bear Creek and New London fire departments intentionally set a farmhouse ablaze on Saturday, April 28.
Firefighters from both departments participated in a live burn training facilitated by Fox Valley Technical College’s fire protection program at N6194 County Trunk D in the town of Maple Creek.
“Dan Madden offered the house to us for training, as he planned on taking it down anyways,” Bear Creek Fire Lt. Ken Baierl said.
Firefighters spent the morning lighting several fires inside the house and practicing putting them out, Baierl said.
Around noon, the training session culminated in burning down the entire house. The house took about an hour and a half to collapse.
New London Fire Chief Mark Wilfuer said it’s been about a decade since New London Fire Department last held a live burn training – at the former Handschke house across from Wal-Mart – so he appreciated Bear Creek Fire Department extending the invitation.
A hands-on experience like this forces firefighters to navigate a smoke-filled setting where they cannot see their own hands in front of their faces, Wilfuer said.
“These burns don’t come along every day,” Wilfuer said.
Such trainings are useful in giving rookie firefighters practice in hazardous situations with the added benefit of professional FVTC instructors being on hand, Wilfuer said.
For the rest of the community, the fire provided an interesting sight. With traffic being single-lane in front of the house, passerby often stopped their vehicles to watch the massive flames consume the structure for as long as they could until oncoming cars forced them to keep rolling.