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Live-fire training in Weyauwega

The fire department trained in the donated house throughout the summer with a machine that created fake smoke. On Oct. 7, they conducted live-burn training in the house under controlled conditions. James Card Photos

Donated house torched

By James Card

The Weyauwega Fire Department ignited small fires inside of a derelict farmhouse Saturday, Oct. 7, at the crossroads of Kriese and Haffner Roads.

Throughout the morning they tested their firefighting skills in a live-fire setting with full gear and hoses at the ready.

When they were done, they burned the house down for good.

Connor Grambsch donated the house to the department for training purposes. He purchased the property after the former owner, an elderly man, died alone in the house.

The man was a hoarder and inside the dwelling were narrow passages choked with years of detritus. He and family members spent months removing the junk to ready the premise for the fire department.

Once the house was inspected for safe use, the fire department trained in the house throughout the summer.

A firefighter sprays down nearby trees to prtect them from the blazing house. The Weyauwega Fire Department used the olf farmhouse for training exercises and then burned it down at the request of the propety owner. James Card Photo

“We have a smoke machine that fills up the house with fake smoke and we go in and train. Then today we do live burns. Today we did seven burns in the house. It gets going and we let it burn so the firefighters can see how it happens throughout the room. Then we vent a window and they will enter the room and put it out. We do interior fire attack training and also command training,” said Fire Chief Tom Cullen as walkie talkies buzzed and beeped in the background.

Four New London firefighters also joined Weyauwega for the live-burn training.

After their drills were complete, they set the house on fire for demolition. The blaze grew larger and flames licked through the windows. Ash fell from the sky like charred snowflakes. The giant plume of gray smoke could easily be seen from Weyauwega city limits.

Firefighters were stationed at each corner of the building. They soaked down the trees near the house and the porta-potty if someone entered it. Among firefighters, this is a fine prank and the high-pressure blast on the plastic outhouse walls sounds like thunder.

They also sprayed down outbuildings on the property that Grambsch plans to repurpose. He eventually wants to build on the land and give the homestead a new life.

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