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Fire displaces Janesville couple and their cats

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
February 14, 2008
— A Janesville couple and their cats are safe after a fireplace fire left nearly $70,000 damages to their east side home.

During the fire, police also ticketed a Janesville man for driving over the main supply hose from the fire hydrant.


Janesville firefighters responded to the single-story, ranch-style house at 1009 Somerset Drive minutes before 1 a.m. today. After the fire was reported by homeowner Doug Schade, several motorists traveling on Interstate 90/39 also called in the fire after seeing flames shooting from the roof, said Bill Ruchti, shift commander at the Janesville Fire Department.


Doug and his wife, Tonya, had been using the fireplace earlier in the evening and went to bed around 11 p.m. Shortly afterward, Doug woke up and could smell smoke, so he went outside to check for fire but couldn’t see anything burning, Ruchti said.


That’s because the fire started behind the fireplace and in the wall before spreading into the attic and roof, Ruchti said.


“It was smoldering in the wall and finally broke through. Most of the smoke went up and out and that’s why the smoke detectors didn’t go off,” Ruchti said.


Most of the damage—estimated between $50,000 and $70,000—occurred to the den and kitchen area behind the garage, Ruchti said.


While firefighters were on scene—for 4 ½ hours—Janesville police provided traffic control and issued a $160.80 ticket to Patrick Krukowski, 24, of 2221 Hawthorne Ave., Janesville, for crossing a fire hose, said Lt. John Olsen.


Firefighters stopped Krukowski, who admitted to driving past an officer, through some empty business lots and into the fire scene and over the main supply hose from the fire hydrant, but he denied seeing the hose, Olsen said.


“We were blocking traffic. He should have known better,” Olsen said.


Ruchti agreed: “The potential there is that it would rupture our water supply and ruin the hose.’’


Fortunately though, Ruchti said, the hose didn’t break or interrupt operations. But the hose will be pressure tested to make sure it is OK.



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