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UPDATE: No Full Investigation Into Rhinelander House FireSubmitted: 04/15/2013
Story By WJFW News Team


RHINELANDER - We will probably never know how a fire that destroyed a Rhinelander home started.

Firefighters aren't investigating Saturday night's Iverson Street fire

The homeowners told firefighers the fire started in a room used for building models.

Fire Chief Terry Williams says that's consistent with what firefighters saw at the scene, so he doesn't see any reason to do a full investigation.


"The other reason we're not doing a full-fledged investigation right now is because the inside of the structure is unsafe," Williams said. "The first floor actually collapsed somewhat, and to put personnel in there outside of an emergency situation is far too risky."

The upstairs floor of the home is also starting to collapse.

The homeowners heard a loud sound from their basement around 9:30 Saturday night.

They went downstairs to check the noise and found flames in a back bedroom on the first floor.

Both the homeowners and their dog got out safely, but the fire spread quickly,

"There was nice dry wood for the home," Williams said. "There were air currents moving through the home with some of the windows that were broke out prior to our arrival, and some of the doors left open throughout the house helped spread the fire throughout the structure."

The home is probably a total loss. The homeowners are staying with family.

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STEVENS POINT - A baby in Portage County ended up in the hospital for seizures twice in three days last fall.  Police think the mother's live-in boyfriend may have shaken that baby.

Matthew Huettl, 25, pleaded not guilty to felony charges for first-degree reckless injury and child abuse in Portage County Court on Tuesday.

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VILAS COUNTY - A 77-year-old man died in a crash near Boulder Junction late Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Vilas County Sheriff's Office and Wisconsin State Patrol, it happened around 3:30 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. Highway 51 and County Highway H.

Investigators think a van went through an intersection and hit a semi truck.

"There was injury," said Boulder Junction Fire Chief Matthew Reuss. "The two passengers in the van had to be extricated. One was taken to Howard Young Medical Center for further care. The driver of the semi was uninjured and the second passenger in the van was pronounced dead at the scene."

According to Wisconsin State Patrol, the driver of the van is a 68-year-old woman from Colby. Crews later took her to St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield for non-life threatening injuries. Her passenger, a 77-year-old male from Colby, died in the crash. They were both wearing seatbelts. 

The driver of the semi is 63 years old and from South Range. 

Traffic was rerouted through Boulder Junction for several hours and was reopened shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Several units responded to the scene.

"Because we had multiple patients, we dispatched multiple ambulance units," Reuss said. "We called in resources from Arbor Vitae for traffic control and we called Manitowish Waters for help in extrication and ambulance service as well as Medic 5 out of Howard Young."

State Patrol and the Vilas County Sheriff's Office will investigate the crash.

Police will not release the names until the families are notified. 

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HARSHAW - On his home computer, Phil Hejtmanek gets used to waiting patiently as webpages load, seeing spinning wheels as videos buffer, and putting work on pause as downloads slowly trickle in.

"Streaming a movie on Netflix is a pipe dream," Hejtmanek said with a laugh. "That's impossible."

Hejtmanek lives on West Horsehead Lake in the Oneida County town of Cassian. His best option for internet service is DSL provided by Frontier, a technology which is a distant memory for many people in cities.

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EAGLE RIVER - The Vilas County Jail hopes to add two new corrections officers in 2017. But the jail needs more applicants by Friday.

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RHINELANDER - When police arrested Alexander Durand for stealing a car, they found he had been stealing mail as well.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office arrested Durand, 21, Saturday for driving a car stolen from a house near Rhinelander. During that investigation, officers found a lot of other people's mail on Durand's property.

The mail was from all over Oneida County as well as other counties.  The Sheriff's Office will contact the people whose mail has been found.

Durand is due in court January 23.

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RHINELANDER - The farther south you go, the less snow you'll see. That's bad news for people who live there, but great for getting people to come to the Northwoods.

The Rhinelander Area Silent Trails Association puts in a lot of work, in part to attract more people to its trails. 

The group works with the Oneida County Forest to improve trails.

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NORTHWOODS - Roads stayed fairly safe north of highway eight Tuesday, but an ice storm caused a lot of slick conditions south of there.

As of Tuesday morning, the state patrol dealt with more than 200 incidents around the region.

But for the most part, drivers weren't crashing into each other.

"The number of slide ins have really outnumbered the number of crashes, which kind of tells us that's good that motorists have been listening and kind of adding a little more distance between themselves and other vehicles so that's good, so it looks like the total number of slide ins have been significantly higher than crashes," said State Patrol Sergeant, Dan Gruebele

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