Family escapes Sparta garage fire that destroys cars, attic - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Family escapes Sparta garage fire that destroys cars, attic

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SPARTA, Wisconsin (WXOW) - A Monroe County family is homeless Monday night after a fire burned down their garage, destroyed their cars, and spread to the attic of the home.

Firefighters arrived at the home on Inspiration Avenue around 5:30 p.m. The family of six had already escaped the home. Neighbors were coming to their rescue.

Parents and kids watched as their house burned.

Firefighters put out the flames and carried possessions out of the house – like deer mounts and pictures – anything they could save.

"Yeah, we heard it. There was an explosion. It was probably when the gas tank blew up in his truck that was in the garage. And it shook our house. We live about 300-400 yards back behind them," said Ernest Jahn, a neighbor.

When firefighters arrived at the house on Inspiration Avenue, the garage was already burned to the ground, and wind moved the fire to the attic, causing it to collapse.

"A house fire is just a tragic incident. Yeah, we are firefighters but we rather sit at home and not have our pagers going off," said Bob Garrelts of Erv's Sparta Rural Fire Department.

It was also a tragic site for neighbors.

"Dad ran out the door, mom called 911. I grabbed a clean T-shirt (and) wetted it down just in case somebody had to get in the house for a child or anything that could have been left behind," said Logan Jahn, a neighbor.

"All we could think of is, ‘if we could find that garden hose and an outdoor faucet, maybe we could wet that house down,'" said neighbor Gary Peterson. "But by that time we couldn't find anything."

Parents and their four kids escaped the fire with some belongings. But the total damage is still being determined.

Firefighters rescued a cat from the house.

The homeowner, who didn't go on camera, said the dog, guinea pig and four kittens were also spared.

Neighbors lent a helping hand by offering places to stay, cars and clothing.

At 8 p.m., firefighters said they'd be at the house for several more hours.

The cause of the fire and the damage it caused is still being investigated.

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