Onalaska family surveys damage from early morning house fire - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Onalaska family surveys damage from early morning house fire


ONALASKA, Wisconsin (WXOW) – Most of an Onalaska home is a loss after it went up in flames early Saturday morning.

It happened around 12:20 a.m. at 117 W. Larkspur Ln.

The Onalaska Fire Department said the family inside heard an explosion, saw smoke, and ran from the home.

It took firefighters three hours to get the fire under control. They didn't leave the site until 6:30 a.m.

One Onalaska firefighter was injured and treated a the scene, according to the department.

All residents evacuated the home safely before firefighters arrived.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

What was home to the Tomashek family this morning is now just a frame around 15 years of memories.

"It's a sickening feeling. I don't really know how you put into words," said Tony Tomashek.

Most of his and his family's belonging were charred in the early morning fire.

"The first thought is to round up everybody in the family and get them out. And you don't even think about personal possessions. This is something really you don't ever plan for. You think about it, but you don't ever plan for it," he said.

When flames engulfed Tomashek's home, he, his wife, son, daughter and her boyfriend ran across the street, barefoot, and sought shelter at a neighbor's home.

Another neighbor ran toward the fire.

"I was on the radio talking to 9-1-1. They said there was a little anxiety in my voice and I was talking a little bit fast. So it's very scary when it's this close to home and you know the people involved," said Onalaska Police Capt. Rick Molzahn.

It wasn't a long commute for Molzahn. He walked out his garage and across the street to tend to the fire.

"It kinda really hits you hard," he said about watching his neighbors' house go up in flames.

"There goes your past. I guess you pick up the pieces and move on and you've got good family and friends," Tomashek said.

He now hugs each and every one of them a little tighter.

The Tomashek family still has to consider where they're going to live.

For the short term, the family with live with Tony's son and daughter-in-law.

But he did say about 20 neighbors and friends offered bedrooms if the family needs a place to stay.

Tomashek said that kindness is why his family moved to the neighborhood in the first place.



The Onalaska Fire Department needed some help responding to Saturday's fire.

The department used the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, more commonly known as MABAS.

MABAS connects area departments together through a preplanned set of scenarios.

For example, if Onalaska is busy at a fire and activates a MABAS call, another department may be called to respond to the scene or backfill the Onalaska station.

"(It) brings in their resources so we can still keep our city protected, and with the extreme temperatures and the weather conditions, our members can get fatigued, get cold, so we have to rotate our crew members out," said Lt. Corey Yonkovich of the Onalaska Fire Dept.

MABAS doesn't just apply to fires; it covers a variety of emergency scenarios.

The Campbell, Shelby and Stoddard-Bergen Fire Departments helped Onalaska Saturday morning.

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