WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- Fire gutted the second story of an unoccupied house in downtown Wausau Tuesday. The house is on Grand Avenue just north of Townline Road.
Battalion Chief Phil Rentmeester says the structure is heavily damaged. “The important thing is no one was injured in this house fire, but this was a significant fire that we just had. A lot of damage to this structure. We’re not exactly sure where we’re going to go with it from here, but we’re going to conduct our investigation shortly.”
Fighting fires in cold weather is another challenge. Rentmeester says the sub-zero temperatures have formed ice on equipment, making it more challenging to fight the fire. “We’ve had ice forming up on our self contained breathing apparatus, we’ve had it form up on our radios and other equipment as well, so it can be a real challenge. Getting the hoses out when we’re done with the operation is tough as well.”
Fire trucks, ambulances, and support staff needed Grand Avenue, which meant one of Wausau’s busiest streets had to be blocked off. “We did have Grand Avenue shut down for a well over an hour, and that’s a challenge for Wausau Police Department, but they did a great job, and what DPW (Department of Public Works) did for us is they brought out some arrow boards and they got the traffic rerouted. As you know, this is a pretty busy street. A lot of people are travelling it every day, so we had to send it over to Prospect Avenue.”
Fire investigators are in the structure now trying to determine the cause. Rentmeester expects that fire department investigators will be at the scene much of the day, and other firefighters will be cleaning and de-icing equipment so it’s ready for the next call.