Tornado Keeps Wisconsin Firefighters Busy

The day started as a normal quiet day in Wheatland, Wis, but who would have guessed by night fall, their lives would be changed in a matter of seconds.

As Wheatland Volunteer Fire Department and Twin Lakes Rescue responded to a 10-50 rollover accident at 5900 block of HWY O, the tornado sirens were being sounded.

First units on scene were; Wheatland grass rig/crash truck 6671, followed behind that was Twin Lakes rescue squad 6545, Twin Lakes crash truck 6554 and Wheatland Fire Engine 6614, and Wheatland First Responder's.

As Twin Lakes Fire/Rescue along with Wheatland Fire began patient care and extraction, the rain and hail began to fall, and the wind started to pick up. Soon all Fire, Rescue and Kenosha County Sheriff's Deputies were faced with an EF3 Tornado on their hands. Everyone on scene found themselves looking for cover. Sheriff's Deputies found themselves holding onto the fire engine while others held on to each other in an attempt to keep each other safe. While some found cover in the Rescue Squad others found cover behind personal vehicles on scene. After the tornado passed, crews continued patient care and safely extracted the patient from the vehicle.

As the calls to Wheatland fire began to come across the pagers about people being trapped in basements, gas leaks and a possible structure fire. Crews on scene knew it was going to be a long night, not knowing what was going to be awaiting them.

Chief Alan Kaddatz pulled MABAS Box alarm 66-01 and 66-02 to the 5th level. Over 40 crews from agencies all over southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois responded to the call.

When crews from other agencies arrived they were immediately put to work to do an initial search and rescue. All residents were evacuated and taken to a nearby school. After all residents were evacuated, a secondary search was established to look for pets which were transported to a vet clinic.

By early morning, search dogs from McHenry County, Ill. were sent to search the rubble. By 10 A.M Tuesday morning a press conference was held that confirmed there were no fatalities and only 15 injuries, the most substantial being a broken arm. It was also reported that 25 homes were completely destroyed, and about 30 homes sustained minor to moderate damage in three different subdivisions. Fortunately the EF3 tornado had missed a 275 site mobile home park by less than a half mile.