Herald JournalWinsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Dec. 9, 2002

Morning fire hits home near New Germany

By Ryan Gueningsman

A chimney fire destroyed several rooms at a residence in rural New Germany, located in Hollywood Township, Tuesday morning at approximately 7 a.m.

Severe fire, smoke, and water damage was caused by the fire, forcing Robert and Jodie Dobratz and their children Ashley and Chad out of their home at 17875 42nd St., north of New Germany.

There was approximately $50,000-$100,000 in damage, said New Germany Fire Chief Steve VanLith.

"We haven't figured exactly what the cost of the damages will be," he said, "but it will be somewhere around there."

"We noticed the flames on the staircase by Chad's room as the kids were getting ready for school," said Robert's father Harlan.

"We used a small pitcher to try to put it out, but by that time, we could hear the sirens coming over Peterson's hill."

The fire got out of control and the Dobratzes fled their home.

Upon receiving the call, the New Germany Fire Department called for mutual aid from Mayer and Winsted because it was a house fire. Mayer sent about 10 men, and Winsted sent 12.

"We supplied water and assisted with fire suppression," said Winsted Fire Chief Paul Herbolsheimer. "We manned hoses, and also utilized the thermal imaging camera, this time to check for 'hot spots,' and to make sure the fire was completely out."

After wrapping up the fire, the New Germany department left the scene at approximately 9:40 a.m., VanLith said. "The Red Cross was called to help them with what they lost. It's too bad it had to happen right before Christmas."

The home was built in 1903 for a cost of $900, Harlan said. "Electricity was put in the home in 1948 for a little more than $200. Chad is the sixth generation of the family to live there."

No one was injured in the blaze, and the Dobratzes are currently staying at Harlan's home.

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