Hope Witt had just turned on the stove for dinner on Jan. 19 when she heard smoke alarms going off in the house. It wasn’t coming from the stove, Witt knew that much. Running upstairs, she saw nothing.
Meanwhile, her husband, Chris, ran downstairs and saw smoke coming from the basement. Then he looked outside and saw flames coming from a one-story addition at the back of the house.
“He went to his truck to get a fire extinguisher while I called 911,” Hope Witt said.
Chris Witt opened the sliding glass doors to the addition, which housed a hot tub, and turned the fire extinguisher loose on the smoke and flames. He told his wife that he had it almost completely under control – then the fire extinguisher emptied.
“And it went ‘whoosh!'” Witt said.
Witt and her husband, along with her son, her sister and the family’s two dogs made it out before the flames spread into the main portion of their tri-level home at 4328 Deyo Ave. in Brookfield. The fire gutted the addition containing the hot tub, and the three levels in the main home were severely damaged.
In the main home, firefighters had to cut holes in floors, walls and ceiling to make sure fire did not spread inside those areas. They were also forced to break windows and cut a hole in the roof to ventilate the smoke.
The house remains uninhabitable and, according to Witt, will take between four to six months to renovate. The family’s insurance company is in the process of finding a temporary home for the Witts, who are staying with family members in Brookfield.
“We couldn’t get anything out,” Witt said. “The rest of our stuff is smoke or water damaged.”
Firefighters responded to the home at 6:20 p.m. and found the rear addition engulfed in flames and fire traveling across the basement ceiling, according to Fire Chief Patrick Lenzi. The addition’s main purpose was to house a hot tub and related equipment. Lenzi said the fire appeared to start in a closet in the hot tub room. The cause of the fire was still under investigation as of Friday, Witt said.
In addition to Brookfield, firefighting equipment and emergency personnel from more than a dozen neighboring agencies came to assist in extinguishing the fire. Lenzi said that the fire itself was under control within 25 minutes, although fire crews remained on the scene for several hours.