Fire Chief Says Amish Are Always Ready to Help

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It wasn't just firefighters that helped put out a fire Wednesday. The Augusta fire chief says about another 50 or so volunteers are always on call--the Amish.

If there's smoke in the sky or sirens rushing by, Amish men don't waste any time heading in that direction.

"They won't say how they dispatch, but if they're in the area, they're coming. They just appear! It's great," Augusta Fire Chief Ken Zich says laughing.

Chief Zich says his crews can count on 20 pairs of extra hands, sometimes 50.

"They'll drop everything and come. Even in the middle of the night, they're coming across the field," he says.

And the Amish are always anxious to help.

"Sometimes we have to tell them to back off a little until it's under control,” Zich says with a smile.

At Wednesday’s fire, the Amish helped the trained fire crews douse the flames and tear down what was left.

“When the fire is out and we're doing the overhaul, they're more than willing to help and they do a great job," Zich says.

The chief says the Amish volunteers form a line and hurry to save anything from the house they can.

"They save us lots and lots of work. By the time, they're ready to go to work, we're all tired and they pitch right in and they do a fine job," he says.

Chief Zich says it's a unique situation, involving a unique group of people, but it's one he's proud to be a part of.

"We sure love to have 'em!"


Two cats and a dog died as a home burned to the ground Wednesday morning. No one was home when the fire started, but Chad and Vicki Boettcher say their cats Callie and Sassy and their Black Lab Max never made it out.

The house is in southern Eau Claire County on Lange Road. Augusta-Bridge Creek Fire Training Officer Jason Pettis says the fire started in the kitchen area, but crews are still investigating exactly how the it started. They are looking into a stove malfunction.

Four departments were on scene for hours putting out the flames and dousing hot spots. Pettis says strong winds made fighting the fire hard and crews also worked to make sure the woods near-by didn't burn down. The Boettchers say they'll stay with family for now until they're able to rebuild.

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