Family reflects on community support following bonfire explosion

Published: Oct. 16, 2022 at 5:48 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 16, 2022 at 8:12 PM CDT
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PULASKI, Wis. (WBAY) - The Pulaski community is healing after a bonfire explosion sent several young people to area hospitals with severe burns.

The Shawano County Sheriff’s Office says an accelerant was put on the fire, causing the explosion Friday night in the Town of Maple Grove.

“What we heard is the kids were just getting to the hospitals and kids were being taken by people and that’s when the hospitals started to realize... what’s going on here? What happened? It was chaos.” Jen Ziech said.

Ziech is the aunt of Pulaski High graduate Brandon. He’s being treated for his burns in a Milwaukee hospital.

She says she heard at least 30 people–all students or former students from Pulaski–ended up with serious injuries.

Now, she’s hopeful Brandon can make a full recovery.

“He’s... fighting... he’s in rough shape. They said the first 72 hours would be critical. He made it through that and we’re all going to end up going down there and seeing him,” Ziech continued.

She started a GoFundMe for her family to help cover medical expenses... and the donations are pouring in. CLICK HERE for a full list of fundraisers for victims.

“We are a very giving family and it feels different to be on the receiving end,” Ziech began. “But it’s amazing. We can’t describe how great the people have been that have donated and helped.”

She said there are additional ways community members can help alongside the GoFundMe.

“You know gas money going back and forth with these parents and families just to visit them, stuff like that. Meals, things like that. Gift certificates… even if they can’t do anything, just send a card. Encourage these kids.”

Assumption BVM Catholic Church opened its doors for a special prayer service.

“When the details started to come out about the event on Friday evening after the football game we knew that something had to be done,” Father Jim Gannon explained. “The whole village was impacted. We’re all related. The parish, the village, the people... I would say everyone in the village knows someone who has been impacted by this event.”

The Shawano County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information that could help with the investigation to reach out at 715-526-3111.