Man injured in Thursday morning fire that destroys home

An early morning fire Thursday destroyed a Town of Merrill home and sent the occupant to the Burn Center in Madison.

The Lincoln County 911 Center received a report of the fire at W5012 Hillside Drive at 3:07 a.m. First units from the Merrill Police and Fire departments and sheriffs’ deputies found the single story house fully engulfed in flames. Units from the MFD, with mutual aid from the Pine River and Corning departments quickly brought the fire under control. The home was completely destroyed in the blaze.

Merrill Fire Chief Bob Odegard said the owner of the house, Todd Zastrow, 44, attempted to fight the blaze before firefighters arrived and suffered second and third degree burns to his hands and chest.

“The fact that the victim tried to put the fire out, and was burned in the process, leads us to believe it wasn’t suspicious in nature,” Odegard said.

Odegard said he is fairly certain where the fire started but is waiting to interview Zastrow to make a final determination as to what caused it.

Zastrow was first taken to Ministry Good Samaritan Hospital before being transferred to the Burn Center in Madison. Odegard said Zastrow is undergoing skin grafts for his burns and won’t be available to talk to fire officials for at least a week.

Insurance investigators will do their own probe into the fire and determine the next step, although Odegard is fairly certain the cause was accidental. If the insurance company officials wish a more formal investigation, Odegard said the matter will be looked into closer.

“I’ve been in contact with the State Fire Marshal’s office since Thursday morning and they are satisfied with my findings so far,” Odegard said.

A benefit for Todd Zastrow and his son, Nik, will be held Saturday, Jan. 29 at DAT Bar in Merrill. The event will start at 2 p.m. and will feature live music and karaoke.

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