ONALASKA, Wis. - Some Onalaska residents are still busy putting their lives back together in the aftermath of a fire at an apartment complex over the weekend.
The fire destroyed eight apartments at the corner of 13th Avenue and Greenbay Street in Onalaska.
For some of those displaced by the fire, it meant losing everything.
Laura Steiner and her dog, Axel, are a perfect match.
"I'm like the crazy dog mom, I would do anything to him. I would talk to him in a baby voice. I make birthday cakes for him,” Steiner said.
Luckily, Axel was already with Steiner at a friend's house Saturday morning when she woke up to the news.
"As soon as I started walking towards it I just saw that the firefighters were just spraying water right into my bedroom, and that's when I lost it. I just broke down and cried -- just knowing everything was gone,” Steiner said. “22 years of my stuff was destroyed."
All of her personal items were gone in a matter of hours.
"I keep closing my eyes and looking around in my mind of the apartment, and little things will pop up that I'm like, oh I lost that, oh I lost that -- It's pretty emotional,” Steiner said.
The Red Cross assisted Steiner, her roommate and others impacted from the fire.
"In this case in Onalaska, none of the units were livable. So we can give them immediate financial assistance in the form of a debit card, and the amount that is loaded on that debit card depends on how many people are in the household, and whether or not they need temporary housing for that night,” said Peter Knapik, DAT specialist for the Red Cross.
But in light of nearly losing everything, having Axel by her side is what keeps Steiner going.
"If I didn't have him here, I don't know if I could keep moving on and healing,” Steiner said.
And the community support has been overwhelming.
"I'm so thankful for having an amazing family behind my back, and my roommate as well. I can't imagine the people that lived there that don't have families around here. They've been a tremendous help,” Steiner said.
Three Sixty Real Estate, the owner of the property, has set up an emergency fund for the victims of the fire.
Donations can be made to Citizens State Bank at 620 Main Street in La Crosse, or at Citizens State Bank at 625 Main Street in Onalaska.
Three Sixty Real Estate as well as Cedar Hills Multi Family LLC will match up to $5,000 in donations.
Steiner is a student at UW-La Crosse.
She and her roommate plan to find another apartment as soon as possible.
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