TOWN OF MINONG– Two children, Phoebe and Thacher DenHartog, died in a house fire in the town of Minong early on Saturday morning, Feb. 20.
A caller reported the fire at 4:47 a.m. at W6901 Semrad Dr. and said two people were still in the house and unable to get out. Two people had been able to escape the burning home.
The house was fully engulfed as law enforcement and the Minong Area Fire Department arrived, and the Wascott and Gordon fire departments were called out for mutual aid.
The cause of the fire is being investigated locally, said Minong Fire Chief Jay Barrett.
Thacher, 13, was a seventh-grade student at Northwood School, and Phoebe, 10, was a fifth-grader at Webster School.
"The Northwood School District and communities are profoundly saddened by the recent tragedy," said Superintendent Scot Kelly. "Our hearts go out to the family and friends of all those impacted with our most sincere condolences."
The district activated its crisis response team, which includes contacting area resources to support students and staff.
"The outpouring of support from counselors from neighboring school districts (Solon Springs, Spooner, Ashland, and others), mental health professionals (Anchor Bay and NorthLakes), and local clergy (Calvary Lutheran and The River Church) has been amazing," Kelly said. "Additional area resources have also reached out to offer their assistance to both the school and the family.
"We appreciate the well wishes as the family, community, students, school staff and local EMS [emergency medical services] personnel go through the grieving process.
"Together we are Northwood Strong!" Kelly said.
At Webster School, the school's administrative and crisis team noted to parents the loss to the school community.
"This loss is sure to raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our entire school, especially our students," the team said.
"Our school has a Crisis Intervention Team made up of professionals trained to help with the needs of students, parents, and school personnel at difficult times such as this. At our school, in each of our three buildings, we have counselors available for any student who may need or want help or any type of assistance surrounding this loss," the team said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up at https://bit.ly/3dCAC0E. It says simply, "Tragically we lost two family members in a house fire. Without any insurance any support you could offer to help my cousin and family would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your support and prayers."
The page also says that physical donations can be dropped of at 9323 E. Bass Lake Rd., Apt. 3E, Gordon, WI 54838.
The organizers are hoping to raise at least $25,000 for the family. Later on Monday the amount was raised to $50,000.
“The original goal was to cover the cost of burial,” said organizer Joshua DenHartog, “however due to the generosity of everyone and the need for shelter for the remaining family members we have decided to up the goal to $50,000. This will help cover rent, household items, and time missed at work. We can’t believe how supportive the community has been in this time of need and no words will express our gratitude.”