Town of Niagara, WI – A large explosion at a Town of Niagara residence left two injured Sunday.
The explosion occurred at a mobile home on Payette Road around 8:50 a.m., according to Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve. Emergency responders were dispatched to the scene.
A GoFundMe page identifies the victims as Joe and Debi Henrichs.
“They are going to be ok. They’re both still sedated and intubated therefore can’t talk at the moment,” reads a post by their daughter, Julia. “Please keep my parents in your prayers through their recovery, grieving the loss of their beloved chihuahuas Ralphie & Rocky, & picking up the pieces of the incredible damage caused by the explosion.”
Debbie Payette describes the moment she knew something was wrong, as she saw her neighbors walk toward her house across the street, through the yard that was littered with what used to be a mobile home.
“I asked him if they were okay, he goes ‘no, call 911,’ I ran back in the house and called 911,” said Payette.
The Henrichs were inside the home at the time of the explosion.
Both suffered serious injuries, including burns. Sheriff Sauve reported they are from the Milwaukee area. The mobile home is a seasonal property for the couple.
First responders were able to talk to the male victim about what happened.
“We were able to talk to him there at the scene, and we had an officer go to the hospital and talk to him briefly there too. He confirmed for us that the furnace, the propane furnace had gone out the night before, he was able to light it and then in the morning it was cold, and he attempted to light it again and that’s the last thing he remembers is trying to light the furnace again. So we believe that’s what caused the explosion,” Sheriff Sauve said.
In the aftermath, several family members spent hours trying to salvage valuable items beneath all the debris.
The victims were transported to the Dickinson County Memorial Hospital in Iron Mountain. Later, they were sent to a different hospital in Wisconsin.
Alongside the GoFundMe page, family members set up a fund at a Wisconsin credit union. Despite Joe and Debi not having a bank account in the area, family wanted to give community members a way to contribute in-person.
The mobile home is considered a total loss. A garage also sustained damage.
“A lot of the nice things he had in there are damaged also. There’s significant property damage, but more importantly is their serious injuries they’ve received,” said Sheriff Sauve.
Authorities do not suspect foul play. The investigation is ongoing.
The Niagara Fire Department, Niagara Rescue Squad, Integrity Care Paramedics, Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office and WE Energies Power Company assisted at the scene.