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Structure, Memories Lost in Iron River Fire

Updated: 04/07/2014 6:16 PM
Created: 04/07/2014 5:21 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson

A northern Wisconsin town is in shock after the warming house at their community ice rink went up in flames Sunday evening.

The Iron River Police Department said through an anonymous tip they were able to take three juveniles into custody. They have been turned over to Bayfield County Human Services pending charges.

"They had forced their way in and they were in there just prior to the fire starting," said Police Chief Scot Eisenhauer.

Eisenhauer said two of the juveniles were 13, the other was 15.

The warming house is a total loss. More than just the structure, community members say they lost years of memories in the fire.

"All the memories of my children skating came into mind right away," said Michelle Drougas of Iron River.

As a hockey mom, it's fitting Drougas was watching her daughter play hockey when she heard the news of the fire.

"It was built for the kids and there was a lot of passion in Iron River about it for a good 20-plus years," she said.

Her kids grew up playing hockey at the Iron River rink, and old team pictures line the walls of her restaurant, the Pizza Parlor.

But the warming house is now gone. Firefighters from Iron River, Brule, Port Wing, and Mason fought the blaze for hours, saving the Zamboni, a truck, and other equipment.

The building is a charred mess.

"This was a big ice arena for a while and a lot of families came up here. Over the years it has dropped off somewhat,"  said Eisenhauer.

The Town of Iron River took over the rink about three years ago when the hockey association dissolved.

"The past three years the police department has filled it and taken care of it for the kids. We'd open it up after school and they'd skate," said Eisenhauer.

This year, there wasn't enough money in the budget to flood the rink so it wasn't open, explained the chief.

The building was valued at approximately $50,000.

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