1 hurt in Spread Eagle fire


Staff Writer

SPREAD EAGLE, Wis. – A 63-year-old man received serious burns to his face, hands and lower half of his body following a structure in Florence County on Wednesday.

Florence County Sheriff Jeff Rickaby said that at 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday, the Florence County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a 63-year-old man, who does not speak well due to a medical condition, that he needed help.

The dispatcher confirmed his name and address listed on his wireless account as his location at 4456 Lake Ellwood Road.

Due to his medical problem, they had a very difficult time determining the specific problem and dispatched a sheriff’s deputy to the Lake Ellwood address.

Dispatchers then double-checked his location using the longitude and latitude and found the actual call was coming from the intersection of U.S. Highway 2 and Montgomery Lake Road, several miles away from the Lake Ellwood address.

Rickaby said about that time, a second 911 call came in from a neighbor who heard the explosion at 2003 U.S. Highway 2 reporting a structure fire. This address is the intersection of U.S. Highway 2 and Montgomery Lake Road.

First, responding deputies found the victim with serious burns to his face, hands and lower half of his body in a vehicle in the front yard of the home.

The victim had been guided there by the neighbor that called 911.

Rickaby said that deputies and firefighters found the south wall of the home was blown out as a result of an explosion which was near the wood-fired fireplace.

The fire produced black smoke that could be seen from a distance.

Florence Fire and Rescue responded with units from Breitung Township Fire Department, Aurora Fire Department and Beacon Ambulance as mutual aid. WeEnergies and Florence Utilities also responded to the fire.

The American Red Cross provided donated sandwiches and drinks to the firefighters.

Rickaby said the victim was only able to communicate that he was trying to light his fireplace at the time of the explosion. He added the victim was taken to Dickinson County Memorial Hospital and flown out for additional medical treatment.

The cause of the explosion has yet to be determined as the home had natural gas, LP gas and wood-fired appliances.

Rickaby added no arson is suspected, and the fire marshal’s office declined a request to investigate the fire any further.

Lisa M. Hoffmann’s e-mail address is