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Blaze Destroys Only Fire Hall on Madeline Island, Investigation Underway

Mar 07, 2019 08:23AM ● By Editor

Photos: Glenn Kellahan/WDIO-TV

By WDIO-TV - March 7, 2019

An early-morning fire destroyed Madeline Island's only fire hall.

Town of La Pointe town administrator Lisa Potswald told WDIO that only one wall of the building remained standing when she was on the scene at about 3:30 a.m.  The fire is believed to have destroyed all of the fire engines and ambulances in the hall.

Smoke continued to rise from the La Pointe Fire Hall building Wednesday afternoon when WDIO was on scene.

“I got called about 3:15 this morning that the fire hall was burning down. I ran down to open the town hall so we had some place to stage. By the time I got to the scene, it was totally engulfed,” Potswald said.

Several explosions were heard coming out of the fire hall before 3 a.m.

Potswald said no one was injured, and an investigation into the fire cause is underway.

By the time emergency responders arrived on scene, the building was blazed over.

Madeline Island can currently be reached by an ice road, which will close when ice conditions become unsafe. A windsled is used to transport people between the island and the mainland between ice road and ferry seasons, and fire trucks from the mainland won't be able to reach the island during windsled season.

Potswald said the fire hall is a total loss for the town of La Pointe. Help to get emergency services up and running again is needed. The Town Board declared a state of emergency. 

“In order to be able to purchase what we need on an emergency basis in Wisconsin the town has to declare a state of emergency,” Potswald said.

Authorities have been on scene since the early hours of Thursday trying to figure out what could have caused this fire. The community has offered an outpouring of support to the La Pointe Fire Department.

For now, the fire department will stage in the town’s winter transportation. Potswald said she's looking into other places where they can store equipment and vehicles they’re going to get.

The town will rely on Bayfield, Red Cliff, and Wasburn’s fire departments for emergencies in the area.

“We think we should have our service up and running in the next couple of days,” Potswald said.

The La Pointe Fire Department is made up of 25 volunteer firefighters, 10 ambulance personnel, and three police officers. 

The fire may have destroyed everything in the building, but what the town is most thankful for is that no lives were taken as a result of the fire.

“We are incredibly pleased and thankful that nobody was injured at all in the fire. Normally we have a police officer spend the night sleeping here overnight but because we have an ice road, that officer was able to go home,” Potswald said.

The investigation as to what caused the fire is ongoing. Potswald said it’s expected to be a couple of days until there is a more concrete answer of the fire hall loss.

The Lake Superior island, part of the Apostle Islands chain, has a year-round population of about 260 people.

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