Firefighters rescue Montello area family from burning home
Montello firefighters, assisted with mutual aid by Princeton, were called to the scene of a house fire in the early morning hours of Monday, January 14th. The Montello Fire Department was called at 6:16 a.m. to a structure fire at W3934 Davis Drive off County Road C, east of Montello.
Fire Chief Glen Bubolz reported that the 2-story house was fully engulfed when they arrived. Bubolz and Sheriff’s Deputy Larry Witt were the first on the scene, just ahead of the fire department’s engine crew.
Bubolz said they went to the back side of the building, where they called out to an adult female. Jamie Corrigan, the mother of three children ages 4 years, 2 years and 18 months, was near a window on the second story, which was only about 8 feet up on that side of the building She was able to stick her arm out to show her location, but then they lost contact with her.
Fearing the worst, the engine crew then arrived and got a ladder set up, charged a water line and broke open a window, and they were again able to contact the woman inside. She helped hand out her three young children, one at a time, and firefighters got each child down the ladder and ran some 100 yards to get them to the waiting ambulances. Bubolz said they then were able to get the woman outside and down to the ground, where waiting EMT’s administered oxygen and provided blankets to keep everyone warm. All were conscious and breathing, he reported.
Bubolz said all four were transported by ambulance to Divine Savior Healthcare in Portage, and one child was further transported by Med-Flight to UW Hospital in Madison.
He said it appears the fire started in the middle area of the house, cutting off the family’s avenue of escape. They all stayed together, however, greatly aiding the rescue effort. Bubolz said the mother was also able to stay in contact with the Sheriff’s Department dispatcher Greg Bond, with the assistance of fellow dispatcher Jeremy Breiwa, until help arrived on the scene.
Bubolz said that as of Monday afternoon, the hospital reported to him that all four victims were reported in stable condition.
He added that the home was a total loss, and the family was rescued with only the clothes on their backs. The Red Cross was notified about the incident. In addition, a family pet dog perished in the fire, he reported.
The cause of the fire is being investigated by the Sheriff’s Department, but Bubolz said at this point it does not appear to be suspicious in origin. “This is just a routine check,” he reported. He added that he did not hear smoke detectors going off when he arrived at the scene, but did not know for sure if the family had any.
Firefighters from Montello and Princeton were on the scene nearly four hours. Bubolz gave praise to everyone on the scene, as well as the Sheriff’s dispatchers and other officers who assisted that morning. He gave credit to the efficient work of his engine crew: Jon Vote, Doug Isberner, Andy Knight, Andy Krafft and Paden Drew, along with the EMS ambulance crews from Montello and Oxford, and anyone else he may have not named.
“It was a good job by everyone, and God was on our side on this one,” Bubolz reflected afterwards, thankful that the family was saved. Despite the single-digit temperatures that morning, Bubolz was also grateful that the firefighters had no problems with freeze-ups.
“Everybody says we’re heroes,” Bubolz said, “but we’re here to protect and serve. That’s what we do.”
Marquette County Sheriff Kim Gaffney had high praises for the emergency crews who were on the scene, as well as his patrol officers there, along with dispatchers back at the Sheriff’s Office. Gaffney said Bond, an experienced dispatcher, did “an outstanding job” of directing the mother to keep her and her children safe and together until help arrived. Gaffney listened to the 911 call tape and recalled what he heard, calling it “a classic” with intense drama unfolding as the family waited for help to arrive.
Gaffney also reported that an adult male who resides at the home, Richard Labumbard, had left earlier that morning to go to work.
The chief said there were plans to hold a debriefing for the emergency workers on Tuesday, and he said the incident will also be discussed at an upcoming countywide meeting.