State agency involved in Owen newspaper fire investigation

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OWEN, Wis. (WSAW) -- A local fire chief has called in investigators from the Office of the State Fire Marshal to help figure out what caused a fire at an area newspaper building.

The OW Enterprise newspaper has served the Clark County communities of Owen, Withee, Curtiss and surrounding areas for over 100 years. The editorial team is proving that not even a fire will stop them from getting the news to its community.

"I had a hard time getting out of the car when I first got here. I broke down on the sidewalk,” explains Nathan LePage when he first saw the damage of Sunday's fire.

LePage has been a part of OW Enterprise for years. As an Owen native and recent owner of the publication, Sunday's fire is still a hard pill to swallow.

He says it's too early to tell if everything is a complete loss, but things like archived newspapers are burned to a crisp and there could be even more damage once they get inside. Most of the damage can be seen in the back entryway of the building, where a camper and those irreplaceable archives were stored. But the fitness business that shared this building also saw substantial loss.

The loss of the newspaper's office is especially difficult for Owen-Withee, Curtiss Fire Chief Mark Renderman. He used to own the paper and sold the paper to LePage just four months ago.

"It was difficult to see it burn up. To see the old papers that we saved for people, That's hard to see that those were destroyed,” explained Renderman.

Despite the major setback, Wednesday's edition still made it to shelves on time thanks to the hard work, flexibility, and patience of the staff.

"I think putting it together was the worst. It was a lot of Nathan working from Wausau and Cindy and I here. So, it was a matter of seeing if the paper was going to be done on time, whether it was going to be there to pick it up this morning,” said staff member, Heidi Cynor.

In Wednesday's editorial section was a note from Assistant Editor Cindy Cardinal and a poem she says is helping her get through it all. One of the lines reads: "Stick to the fight when you're hardest hit. It's when things seem worst that you must not quit!"

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