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Exclusive: “Laugh, instead of cry,” says De Pere woman after a fire destroyed her home

Angela Olson describes the fire, the moments after, and trying to pick up the pieces the next day
Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 9:59 PM CST
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - “Laugh instead of cry,” Angela Olson says.

It’s a way to cope for her as her Thursday has been filled with ups and downs.

“There’s things that are irreplaceable, like my grandmother’s ashes and that kind of stuff that’s in there. But, everyone has been very uplifting,” Olson, 32, of De Pere told Action 2 News in an exclusive interview.

She’s navigating a path forward after a fire Wednesday night destroyed her home in De Pere located along Ash Street between 8th and 9th streets.

Olson says she was cooking in the kitchen when a small fire began. It soon got out of hand.

“The fire extinguisher did not work. I pulled the pin, I properly handled it but it must’ve been expired. There was no pressure. I felt like it was empty. There was nothing in it,” Olson said.

She was renting the lower unit of a duplex.

Olson says it was a scary situation because the fire spread so quickly. She immediately let her upstairs neighbors know who then jumped from the balcony with one of them injuring their ankle.

The upper unit resident was transported to the hospital, according to De Pere Fire and Rescue. Olson did get burn marks to her hands due to trying to put out the fire.

Olson says the person jumped because the flames blocked the only exit out of the house.

“There’s no other exit for the upstairs people other than the balcony,” she said. A total of five people were displaced by the blaze.

On scene fire officials expressed concern to Action 2 News that the home was old and had undergone several remodeling projects.

“Everything was way too close and unsafe. You couldn’t put your arms out in one of the doorways,” Olson said.

Olson says she and her family have received overwhelming support from the community with strangers donating clothes and toys for her 7-year-old daughter.

She’s grateful for the firefighters who spent about five hours in the brutal cold putting out the flames.

“I just wanted to thank them. Very appreciative for their hard work and their bravery,” Olson said.

If you’re interested in helping the family, you can find Angela Olson on Facebook or donate to their GoFundMe page - https://www.gofundme.com/f/mx7h4u-fire-lost-everything?utm_campaign=p_lico+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer.

She’s currently looking for kitchen appliances.

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