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Limited damage after fire at Pukall LumberSubmitted: 07/09/2013
Story By Lex Gray


ARBOR VITAE - A fire at Pukall Lumber last Wednesday didn't slow the company down.

No one worked Thursday and Friday, but that was because of Independence Day, not because of the fire. Now, everything but the paneling shop is up and running.

"The fire started right here at our chipping operation, we chip scrap up and blow it into our silos," said vice president Rick Wilson. "There's some foreign object, we think, that got into our chipper that created a spark and started the fire."

Wilson can't remember the last time they had a fire like this.

"We had an employee who noticed some smoke coming out of the top of the building and when we got to the fire, it was already quite large," he said. "We did what we could with the fire extinguishers until the fire department came."

Arbor Vitae fought the fire along with five other departments. Firewalls helped, too.

"The building is really not a total loss," Wilson said. "This is one corner of a very large building. The firewalls did their job and we were able to limit this fire to this one section."

Wilson guesses the damage here will probably run about half a million dollars.

"This building is only paneling and flooring operation. It's a minor part of our business, so overall, we will rebuild it, but it won't have a significant impact on our operation."

Wilson says a fire in any other part of the building would have done millions of dollars' worth of damage. He's also grateful for a quick response.

"I want to thank all the local volunteer fire departments," he said. "They did a great job, they responded quickly and they were very professional."

The panel shop will take at least a few months to rebuild.

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 IN OTHER NEWS
ATV rides for seniorsSubmitted: 06/29/2016

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ONEIDA COUNTY - The Oneida County Senior Centers gives seniors the chance to try new things.

Wednesday, thanks to the help of two ATV groups, the seniors were able to go on rides through the forest.

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PLUM LAKE - St. Germain ATV riders will need to find a new route that avoids Plum Lake.

That's because the Plum Lake Town Board voted against opening up parts of two roads: Kurtzweil Road and Birch Spring Road. Both are on the border of Sayner and St. Germain and are shared between the two towns.

A few months ago, St. Germain asked Plum Lake to open parts of those roads as part of an ATV route. At first, the Plum Lake Town Board approved them. That was before they found out a section of Kurtzweil Road was completely in Plum Lake.

"At that time the Plum Lake Town Board by a 2 to 1 vote approved letting them use that, assuming at the time the two roads were boundary roads equally shared by Sayner and St. Germain," said Will Maines, the Plum Lake Town Chairman.

So when St. Germain came back to the next town meeting with an ordinance for the roads ready to go, the Plum Lake town board then voted no.

Maines said most of the people in Plum Lake don't want ATVs on their town roads. The board found this out from a survey of residents and taxpayers they sent out in 2015, where he said about two-thirds of non-resident property owners and about two-thirds of Plum Lake resident voters voted against allowing ATVs on town roads.

"We'd like to cooperate with the town of St. Germain, but we represent the people of Plum Lake, and they have given us the message loud and clear: they don't want us to allow them on any section of our roads," Maines said.

The St. Germain Town Chairman Tom Christensen said the decision is "disappointing," but, "it is what it is."

About 6 towns in the eastern part of Vilas County allow ATVs on town roads, but the towns in the western part of the county don't allow them on town roads.

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RHINELANDER - Celebrating our nation's birthday with family and friends can be a great time. But it's good to keep safety in mind this weekend too.

The Rhinelander Fire Department responds to a few injuries every year from fireworks. That's far better than the national average of more than 10,000 fireworks-related injuries. But the most common injury actually comes from a firework many parents consider safe.

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- You might enjoy getting on the water during this holiday weekend, but watch out for foreign plants and animals hitching a ride on your boat. Aquatic invasive species can attach to people's boats and trailers as they're entering or leaving the water.

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MERRILL - When you need to feed three children on a limited budget, Stanges Park becomes something of a summer oasis for Claire Barker.

"Two to three times a week we're here," Barker said.

The Merrill mother brought her kids to the daily free lunch program at the park Wednesday morning. For Barker, the healthy meals make a big difference in her life.

"The generosity, the park, we go to the library, so it's all in a convenient area," Barker said. "And, it's all healthy food."

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MADISON - A Sun Prairie man accused of decapitating his mother with a sword last year has been committed to a state mental hospital.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed with a psychiatrist's report Wednesday that 41-year-old Matthew Skalitzky was mentally ill at the time of the killing.

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WAUSAU - Police officers in Wausau will now wear body cameras, according to a department release Wednesday.

The department also released video from one of the department's first traffic stops using the body camera on its Facebook page.

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