John Andersen, deputy chief of fire prevention, has served in the Chippewa Fire District since it was formed in 1978, and he’s seen plenty of challenging fires. Andersen says the blaze at The View tavern on Lake Wissota on Tuesday might be the most challenging in his four decades of service.
“This is probably the worst weather conditions I’ve been in,” Andersen said Wednesday morning, noting he was at the scene for 12 hours on Tuesday, then returned overnight to assist in extinguishing more small fires that kept popping up.
“We had five people overnight, just putting out hot spots,” he said. “It’s almost like playing ‘whack-a-mole’ in fighting a fire. It’s the best analogy I can come up with. You think you got it, then you don’t.”
Besides the snow, there was a steady wind, which provided oxygen to the flame, helping it grow.