Holmen apartment fire leaves at least 16 homeless

Car fire in garage spreads to an apartment complex

The Holmen Fire Department got a call just before 11 a.m. about a reported car fire in a garage at an apartment complex near the corner of McHugh Road and Highway 35.

Holmen fire chief Paul Menches said it wasn’t long before the fire was out of control with a few of the residents still inside.

“When we arrived on scene, it was fully engulfed,” Menches said. “Our first concern was the folks in the area, we wanted to get them out as fast as we could.”

With the quick response of fire crews everyone was able to get out safely.

“We had a good evacuation,” Menches said.

There were 15 firefighters who battled the fire and the bitter cold for hours. The cities of Galesville and Onalaska also pitched in.

Mark Olson is the father of one of the building’s tenants. Neither his son nor his son’s fiancee were home at the time but he says they have lost everything.

“It doesn’t look like there is going to be a whole lot left of it,” Olson said. “This really brings a lot of tears to everyone’s eyes.”

Olson says he’s thankful for what the emergency crews have done to make sure no one was hurt.

“Not to mention the temperature and the wind and all this. I even see a representative from Galesville Fire Department here,” Olson said. “So it’s a big team effort.”

Holmen’s Police Chief Shane Collins is trying to make sure those who lost everything have support in the days ahead..

“I am going to be starting a Holmen clothes closet with the police department and the schools lost and found so we have some clothes available for the kids if they need them for free,” Collins said.

The fire department doesn’t know what caused the fire but they will continue to investigate.