Sheriff's Office identifies man killed in Waupaca County house explosion

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WAUPACA COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) -- The Waupaca County Sheriff's Office has identified Sunday's house explosion victim as Mark Steven Zielke, 64.

Crews are on scene of a reported house explosion in Waupaca County.

The Sheriff's Office says Zielke was pronounced dead at the scene by the Waupaca County Medical Examiner's Office.

An obituary for Zielke says a memorial mass will be held Aug. 20 at Most Precious Blood Catholic Church in New London. CLICK HERE for more information.

No other injuries have been reported.

The explosion happened at the intersection of County Highway N. and County Road T. Witnesses tell Action 2 News they heard the explosion at about 8:45 a.m. Sunday.

“The male victim was located in the house, so we believe he was possibly still sleeping,” said Waupaca County Sheriff Tim Wilz

Linda Johnson lives across the intersection from where the explosion happened. She got home from church just after it occurred.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Johnson. “I couldn’t get through, all the debris was in the road, and I said ‘It looks like our neighbor’s house blew up.’”

Sheriff Wilz and Manawa Rural Fire Chief Rob Rosenau said they had never seen anything like it before.

“Only on TV," said Rosenau. "And we’re always hoping it’s not in our area but unfortunately we have it in our area today.”

“When I arrived I had all the fire personnel here and it was totally obliterated," said Wilz. "The entire building was leveled."

Personnel from the Waupaca County Sheriff's Office, Manawa Fire Department, Iola Fire Department, Marion Fire Department and Scandinavia Fire Department were all on scene.

“When we came here there was debris scattered all over the place and a small fire inside the house,” said Rosenau.

That debris spread at least 500 ft., damaging some of the nearby properties like Johnson’s. That intersection was blocked off for hours as crews investigated the cause of the explosion and cleared off the roads.

At this point, a cause for the explosion has not been determined.

“The fire marshal and his team are right now done and complete with the initial [investigation], however the insurance companies will have their own team of investigators as well,” said Wilz.

Whatever the cause, Johnson’s neighbor of 40 years is now gone and an entire family is affected.

“I just feel bad for them," said Johnson. "I mean they lost everything.”

Rosenau anticipates there will be more information released in the coming days.


Insulation and parts of a home litter the roadway after a reported home explosion in Manawa.