WEAU | Eau Claire, Wisconsin | News, Weather, & Sports

Another Dead in Rice Lake Fire

By: Erica Dao
By: Erica Dao

"To see something like that, it's not the same as seeing it on TV,” said Sheri Jones, a witness of the fire.
Sheri and Dave Jones were asleep when they heard a boom and before they knew it, their neighbor's apartment was ablaze. In an instant, they acted on instinct.
"When he came out to put the fire out in the yard, I called 911, then came out, grabbed a hose and went over there."
Michael White, the man thought to have ignited the apartment, was on fire. Jones hosed him down.
"I heard course language coming from that apartment and I didn't pay much attention to it because I heard that all the time and then the place started on fire and I just had enough time to get my pants on and get out here,” said Dennis Kuhrt, the next door neighbor and witness.
According to Rice Lake police, the apartment belonged to Sandy White's fiancee, both of them died. The two that were able to get out were White's daughter and her daughter's boyfriend.
"The police department can't officially confirm that yet. We're waiting on dental records or DNA, some type of other official confirmation of their identities,” said Chief John Sommerfeld of the Rice Lake Police Department.
Michael White, Sandy's ex-husband, was airlifted to a hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota where he was pronounced dead Sunday morning.
The other two, a 22-year old woman and a 25 year-old-man, still remain hospitalized and their conditions are unknown.
Police suspect accelerants were involved in the fire because of its severity and could've been set because of a dispute, but has yet to be confirmed.
"We've had a variety of information coming to us and we're trying to chase those leads down and determine what's actually factual and with these types of tragic incidents, there's a lot of rumors that fly around."
The American Red Cross is putting up the other tenants of the complex in temporary housing.


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