Swift County to take care of Thielkes’ Appleton fire bill

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By Reed Anfinson
Swift County Monitor-News

Escaping with their three grandchildren and the clothes they were wearing the afternoon of Oct. 5, Randy and LuJean Thielke watched their home and a lifetime of memories go up in flames. It was heartbreaking.

Then the bills started coming in from the fire departments that had been called to fight the blaze. In all, they totaled over $21,000 with none more stunning that the $15,500 bill from the Appleton Fire Department.

Last Tuesday the Thielkes showed up at the Swift County Board of Commissioners meeting along with members of the Fairfield Township board of supervisors to challenge the bill. Also, at the meeting was George Duckwitz, a Fairfield Township farmer who lost a barn to a fire Nov. 12.

What Duckwitz had in common with the Thielkes is the confusion surrounding the 911 calls they made and who the responding fire department should have been.

Fairfield contracts with Morris

Larry Mahoney, Fairfield Township board chair, told commissioners that they were at the meeting to encourage it to pursue the installation of fire numbers in the county. However, they further wanted to meet with the county board to ensure that none of their residents ever had to go through what the Thielkes had experienced.

Since 2013, Fairfield Township has contracted fire service with the City of Morris. “We are not unique in having contracted fire service outside of the county,” he explained. “Our neighbor, Tara Township, has three different departments, one being Hancock, which is outside of Swift County...”


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