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Fire in ice
Cold hampers efforts to fight Sunday night fires in Rockville, Georgetown
Georgetown fire
Firefighters battled the cold and the fires in Georgetown and Rockville Sunday. - photo by Photo by Steve Braun

Grant County firefighters had to endure freezing temperatures to fight two fires in southern Grant County Sunday night.

The first fire was at a home at 6214 Highway 61 in Rockville around 5:10 p.m., fought by Potosi and Lancaster firefighters with assistance from Potosi EMS, the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, Lancaster police and the Wisconsin State Patrol.

What started as a chimney fire followed a septic pipe up a wall into the house’s attic, said Potosi Fire Chief Todd Gerhards.

No one was injured, but a dog and cat that lived at the house died. Gerhards said the house was “probably close to a total loss.”

U.S. 61 was closed at Rockville for about three hours, according to the sheriff’s department.

Then, around 9:30 p.m., emergency personnel responded to a woodworking shop that was fully engulfed with flames. The shop at 1323 Church Road in Georgetown contained woodworking materials as well as chemicals used in manufacturing wood products.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, six nearby residences were evacuated due to the chemical dangers associated with the 55-gallon drums exploding and burning chemical fumes.

Cuba City Fire Chief Steve Tranel said it was a large shed, which required mutual aid assistance from Hazel Green, Dickeyville, Jamestown, Platteville and Lancaster fire departments; Cuba City EMS; the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System Division 108 Rehab Unit from Lancaster; and Lancaster Hazmat.

“The most difficult thing to deal with was the temperature,” said Tranel. “It was very cold and ice was forming everywhere.”

Because of the freezing temperatures, ice was forming on the roadway as fire trucks transported water from Cuba City to the fire. The Grant County Highway Department, Town of Smelser and Cuba City Public Works provided gravel and salt on the roadways to keep transportation safe at the scene.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, Grant County D was closed for approximately two hours while emergency personnel extinguished the fire. Traffic control was provided by the Sheriff’s Department, State Patrol and Cuba City Police Department.

“We were able to save one end of the shed,” said Tranel. “There was some damage, but approximately one-third of the shed was salvaged. It wasn’t the most valuable part of the building, but we were able to stop the fire before it spread to that end.”

Tranel said it was a labor-intensive battle to put out the blaze because they had to remove tin from the building to get at the fire.

The responding agencies were on the scene until approximately 4 a.m. Tranel said he and his crew finished cleaning the Cuba City equipment at 6 a.m.