You can meet some of the best people under the worst circumstances.
Edgerton Fire Chief Randy Pickering said that sums up what has happened since a July 5 fire that destroyed the house at 933 Meadow Circle in the town of Fulton.
On Thursday, four Edgerton residents were honored by the Edgerton Fire Department for their roles in helping save the lives of homeowners: Mark and Stephanie Boeche, their two grandsons and daughter who were visiting, and their dogs.
Natalie Gould and Ashlyn Oren, both 19 of Edgerton, were honored with the Meritorious Community Service Award. Travis Lauer and Andrew Lyga, both of Edgerton, were honored with heroism awards.
As Gould and Oren drove home from a bonfire at a friend’s house shortly after midnight July 5, they happened upon a much larger, more dangerous fire.
Instead of driving past the engulfed home on Meadow Circle, Gould and Oren pulled over, called 911 and laid on the car horn to wake up the family sleeping inside.
“It’s a big fire. It’s really big,” Oren said during the 911 call, which Pickering played during the ceremony.
The horn caught the attention of Lauer and Lyga, who were sitting on a deck at a nearby house. The men, both off-duty law enforcement officers, ran to the burning house, went inside, and rescued the five people and two dogs.
Flames were tearing through the house when Lauer and Lyga went in without any protective gear, Pickering said.
Gould and Oren said they did what they thought anyone else would do. They tell everyone they were just in the right place at the right time, Gould said.
The women didn’t stop at honking the horn. They stuck around and helped comfort the 10- and 11-year-old boys who were in the house.
“I have never seen anyone shake so much in my life,” Gould said of the young boys.
The boys adore Gould and Oren, who have stayed in touch with the family since the event, Stephanie Boeche said. Before leaving the fire station Thursday, Gould and Oren discussed with the Boeches about arranging a time to see the boys before the women leave town for college.
Lauer and Lyga said they were pleasantly surprised to learn the people who sounded the horn were teenagers.
The neighborhood around Meadow Circle is usually quiet, Lauer and Lyga said. The two became friends when Lyga moved in last year.
Lauer, a Wisconsin State Patrol inspector, said he would like to think his law enforcement training helped him that night, but he thinks most of what drove him was instinct and adrenaline.
Lyga, a Wisconsin Department of Corrections lieutenant, said he was a volunteer firefighter many years ago, which helped him a bit.
The Boeches stayed at the Hampton Inn in Janesville for one month after the fire. They moved into a rental home earlier this week, which Stephanie Boeche said is the next step to a more normal life.
The Boeches are rebuilding their home in the same spot as the last. It will have the same layout and be the same color as the last, Stephanie Boeche said.
The cause of the fire has not officially been determined, but Stephanie Boeche said that discarded fireworks that were still hot or a toy battery in the garbage can were possible culprits.
Thursday was the first night since the fire that the Boeches saw Gould and Oren. There were plenty of hugs and tears.
“It was wonderful,” Stephanie Boeche said. “We needed that, to say thank you.”