Explosion, house fire leaves two people severely burned

Fire Aftermath
The Washington County Sheriff's Office is investigating an explosion and house fire that happened in Barton, Wisc. on July 23. Mandatory Credit: WDJT

BARTON, Wisconsin (WDJT) — The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an explosion and house fire that happened in Barton near West Bend on Friday, July 23.

Officials were notified of the incident at a single family residence near Norman and Jeanellen around 8:18 p.m. Friday night.

“At approximately 8:21 p.m. last night we got dispatched for the report of an explosion. Flames were visible and injuries. First unit was on scene within five minutes and came to a fully involved house,” said Batallion Chief Jeff Gustafson from the West Bend Fire Department.

Officials say there were two occupants at the home during the explosion. Both received severe burns. They were taken by ambulance to a local hospital and then med flighted to a regional burn unit.

A family member on scene told CBS 58 that the victims remain in critical condition.

Gustafson said neighbors nearby played a role in making sure the people in the home made it out as safe as possible.

“Hats off to the neighbors, they assisted in evacuating the victims of the actual fire building and they did a great job,” said Gustafson.

The neighbor next door to the damaged home didn’t want to go on camera, but told CBS 58 he went outside as soon as he heard the explosion, thinking it was lightening. He then said he saw the fire and noticed one of the occupants of the home was out but but the other wasn’t. That’s when he said he went in the blazing home and got the last occupant out. He said his neighbor inhaled a lot of smoke and had severe third degree burns.

The residence sustained severe damage due to the fire, smoke and water. Officials say the home and its contents are a total loss. Preliminary damage estimates were believed to exceed $300,000.

Traffic to the area was shut down for nearly four hours, officials say. Neighboring residences were also temporarily evacuated. Minor damage occurred to a neighboring home.

A witness on scene last night to CBS 58 what he saw.

“I was listening to the police scanner and I heard a call go out for a house fire up the road from me. I stepped out of my house and saw really thick dark smoke and during the transmission actually heard ammunition going off in the background of the transmission,” said Erik Herron. “I was literally behind the house close enough that I felt the heat and had ashes actually cover me at one point.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Deputies with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and West Bend Fire Department officials reported to the scene. Several surrounding agencies assisted with the call.