A home on Hidden Creek Court was gutted by fire in the early morning hours on Sunday, with witnesses saying it began in the garage and spread to the rest of the home.
No one was injured, but many of the firefighters who responded had up to a quarter-inch of ice on them from the water, said Tess Corners Fire Chief Skip Wojnowski. In addition, neighbors said the water that came from the hoses was as it was sprayed onto the home.
The fire was called into police as one of the neighbors, Justin Pauly, let his dog Charlee out around 4 a.m. Seeing the fire, Pauly called 911 and then "ran around the neighborhood trying to wake people up," according to reports.
"She never usually has to go out overnight, so I wonder if she sensed something," Pauly said.
"The man is a hero. He saved people's lives, including the people who lived in that house," said Tracy Manz, who lives to the back of the property.
"I don't think I'm a hero. I feel the next door neighbor to me would've done the same thing," Pauly said. "You just react on instinct."
Tess Corners Fire and Rescue were able to extinguish the blaze despite the frigid temperatures by 7 a.m. according to police. Fire personnel from Big Bend, New Berlin, Wind Lake, Vernon and the North Prairie Fire Bells also responded.
"The structure fire started in garage, went up in through the eaves into the attic," Wojnowski said. "The cause is not determined yet."
Pauly said the homeowner, Russell Lemke, woke up to the "sound of popping, and when he opened the garage door from the house, the flames just came through.
Wojnowski estimated the damage at $400,000.
The family and their two pets were assisted by the Red Cross, which took them to La Quinta Hotel in New Berlin to stay.
Neighbors said they feel for the family.
"They lost everything. I don't think they even have a car," said Manz.
This version includes an update from the Tess Corners Fire Chief, and neighbors who witnessed the blaze.