The Oshkosh Police Department was praised for their quick thinking after recently rescuing a family from a house fire.
Police responded to a call around 7:30 in the morning for a woman, two children and three pets who were trapped upstairs by smoke and flames in a house at 1627 Western St. They arrived before the fire department and had to act quickly to find a way to get the family down from the roof.
Officer Ben Fenhouse noticed that the garage door was open and found a folding ladder inside that the officers used to help the family climb down.
After the rescue, the Stadtmueller family met with the officers to show their gratitude.
Father Doug Stadtmueller expressed his thanks and told the officers how impressed he was with their fast reaction time. “I know you say it’s just your job, but this went above and beyond by miles. What you guys did was incredibly impressive,” he said.
The fire began while Doug was out running errands. His wife Melissa was woken up by the smell of smoke and called for her husband but there was no answer. Meanwhile, her daughter Chloe went downstairs to investigate.
“I saw a lot smoke, then all of a sudden I turned around and looked at the kitchen and all around — smoke, fire, everywhere. I thought about running out the door, but then I was like, I might not make it and what do I do. So then I just ran upstairs,” she said.
Mrs. Stadtmueller then corralled her family and pets and brought them onto the roof through a window. Officers then helped the family climb down the ladder one by one.
“We don’t like ladders,” says Melissa Stadtmueller. “I’ve never been on my roof. I never want to go back.”
Oshkosh Police Officer Lt. Brian Schuldes said that communication and teamwork between the officers was key, crediting their “out-of-the-box” thinking that day. “The communication, the courage that I saw from our officers and firefighters that day, as well as the family. To have those two kids, a 5-year-old and a 12-year-old, come out to an officer’s arm and be confident that they’re going to be safe was incredible that day.”
A few officers were transported to a nearby hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and were cleared to work later that day.
Firefighters cleared up the fire with minimal structural damage to the house in a half-hour.
John Holland, the Oshkosh Fire Department’s public information officer, said the scene “went about as well as a fire could go.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation. According to Holland, it began in the kitchen but was not due to cooking. The family said that what they learned from the incident was to make sure to change their smoke detectors, something they had ignored since they bought the house 17 years ago.
The Red Cross chipped in by putting the Stadtmuellers up in a hotel, where their youngest son Oliver is enjoying the pool.
“We’re so lucky to live in the city that we do. We can’t say thank you enough to everybody that’s helped us, offered help, came over and tried to make us laugh. We’re really lucky,” Doug said.