BLUE RIVER - The village of Blue River is still reeling following the tragic death of three of its community members after an early morning house fire on Jan. 23. Jenny Jo Moe’s sister Anna Dalberg spoke to the press on behalf of the family.
“It’s been crazy,” Dalberg said. “We’ve all been holding up the best we can.”
Dalberg shared that the family was all sleeping when the fire occurred, except for one of the daughters who was out for a walk in the early morning hours. “I live only five blocks away and I heard the fire trucks and EMS and saw that Christina (another child of Jenny Jo’s) was online and I messaged her and asked what was going on and she texted back that the house was on fire.”
Dalberg said she immediately called her mom and woke up her kids and went down to the Cenex gas station next to where the Moe’s home was on 105 Jay Street. Dalberg said it was then that she saw the firemen pulling out Barbie (Barbara), Frederick, Francis and Andy. Quickly teams rushed Francis to Gundersen Boscobel Hospital and Barbie to Richland Center Hospital. From there Barbie was flown to Milwaukee and Francis to Madison.
Unfortunately, both Andrew Brown, 33, a friend of the family who was living there at the time and Jenny Jo Moe’s son Frederick Hurley, aged only 12, were pronounced dead at the scene. Dalberg shared that Frederick and Francis were in the same room of the home and Barbie was across the hall. Under Barbie’s room was where Andy stayed.
“Frederick’s face was burnt pretty badly and Barbie went into cardiac arrest. Jenny had some cuts on her wrist and Gilbert had burns on his hands and arms,” Dalberg reported. “Francis is in recovery, and is doing well. They had to sedate him for most of the time and just woke him up today and told him his siblings are gone. Barbie was pronounced brain dead.” It was later noted that Barbie’s life was honored through organ donation to seven recipients. In addition to the human lives lost, Dalberg shared that the family also lost nine cats, eight sugar gliders, and four chinchillas in the fire.
All together between Jenny Jo and Gilbert Moe the family had a group of nine children. Luckily all of the other children were at other homes on the evening of the fire. However, as Dalberg noted, Jenny and the family are all “taking it pretty hard.”
As of Monday Feb. 1 the Grant County Sheriff’s Department was still investigating the fire. In the press release sent out Monday morning it was noted “The Grant County Sheriff’s Office in conjunction with the State Fire Marshal’s Office continues to investigate the fatal house fire that occurred in Blue River on January 23. At this time the cause is undetermined and the investigation is still going; however, there is no indication of foul play or that it was an intentional act.”
When asked to describe her niece and nephew Dalberg shared that “Frederick was a good kid. A wild child. He liked to wrestle around with his cousins. Barbie loved music and the Milwaukee Brewers.” Dalberg also shared that although she didn’t know Andrew well, she felt he was a “character” and “funny” , always joking around and happy. In Andrew’s obituary he was described as “an amazing brother, son and friend and loved by all who knew him. He was positive, outgoing, curious, creative and fun and always put his family first.”
Dalberg also expressed thanks to everyone on behalf of the family, the fire fighters, nurses, doctors and others who helped the family during this time.
On Friday, Jan. 29 a candlelight vigil was held in the memory of Andrew, Frederick, and Barbie. Over 100 people were in attendance for the event that was held at the park in Blue River.
“Its been very heart breaking, it’s been emotional, a very, very long week,” the children’s former stepmother Stephanie Knowler shared while in tears at the event. “I would never wish this upon my worst enemy.” Community members spoke on behalf of the family, sharing prayers and fond memories of both Barbara and Frederick, and a few words for Andrew as well.
The crowd also gathered in a haunting rendition of Amazing Grace under the cold January night sky. Family members and friends wept openly, holding each other, some wearing masks and shirts that said Fly High Barbara and Frederick.
As the evening drew to a close and the crowd began to disperse, a fight broke out amongst some of the attendees. Police were called to keep the peace but the fight wrapped up as quickly as it began. However, Dalberg reported that a family member had to go to the hospital for a knee injury that left her in crutches.
Through it all though the family continues to move forward. Cleaning up what is left of their belongings and working to support each other, including Francis, 15, who was released from the hospital.
The family still has an active GoFundMe Account and Andrew does as well to help pay for his funeral expenses. At the time of this story the Go Fund Me for Jenny Jo had reached nearly $25,000 and the one for Andrew $1,000.In addition to their thanks to the community, Dalberg also reminded everyone to check the batteries in your smoke detector and tell your family that you love them.