Jan. 29, 2007

Fire strikes Winsted, again

This time, it’s a dairy farming family

By Lynda Jensen

Fire once again struck a home in Winsted, leaving a family with very few belongings, and with a home that is nearly a total loss, Jan. 20.

The call came at 3:10 p.m. to the Roger and Roberta Venske home, reported Winsted Fire Chief Chad Engel.

The Venske home is located about a quarter mile down from Tim and Colleen Flaig’s home, where a house fire burned them out last month.

The Venskes operate a dairy farm three miles west of Winsted. Roger’s brother, Doug, also helps with the farm and lives at the Venske home as well.

They do not have children, and no one was hurt in the blaze.

More than 30 firefighters responded to the scene, 17 from Winsted and 16 from Lester Prairie. Winsted used six fire trucks and Lester Prairie four.

“We managed to prevent the fire from spreading,” Engel said. Firefighters were at the scene in three minutes, he said.

This time, instead of Roger Venske being forced to watch his next door neighbor’s house burn down last month, as he did, he watched his own home sustain heavy damage, as two the fire departments contained the blaze, he said.

And also, once again, a wood stove is likely to blame, which was the case for the Flaig home in December.

The Venske basement, which was filled with firewood, was consumed, but firefighters managed to keep the main floor intact, although it sustained heavy smoke damage, Engel said.

The insurance adjuster was at the home Wednesday, and indicated that the house was “probably totaled,” Roberta Venske reported.

They are keeping what they can, including clothes that can be possibly cleaned. “We don’t know how much stuff we can salvage,” she added.

In fact, Roberta, herself, is steady, and the picture of grace under pressure when it comes to her house being mostly destroyed.

She is confident that things will be OK – even though she is having serious health problems with her kidneys, above and beyond the fire.

“I turned it over to the Lord,” she said. “And I’m thankful for our wonderful neighbors.”

Roberta is staying at neighbor Marvin Kieser’s house, for now.

Despite the terrible condition of the house, the two brothers are still staying there. They can’t stray far because of the cows, of which they are milking 30, Roger said.

For the time being, the cows are OK, and they have enough feed to take care of them, Roger said. His cows are having a problem with mastitis, though, he said.

Donations welcome

The Venskes are trying to salvage what’s left of their house, which sustained heavy smoke damage and is “probably totaled,” according to the insurance adjuster, Roberta Venske said.

They don’t have a place to keep any material donations at this time, Roberta Venske said.

Monetary donations are being accepted by Holy Trinity Church of Winsted on behalf of the Venskes. Financial gifts may be sent to Holy Trinity, PO Box 9, Winsted, MN 55395. Please make a reference to the Venskes in your correspondence.

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