Déjà vu fire scare for Barb Justman

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The fire call came in just after 9 a.m. Monday. The location 448 S. Main Street in West Bend.

Barb Justman fielded the call at home. “Bob across the street at Hoffert’s service station plays pranks on me,” she said.

“He said, BJ you gotta come down here there’s a fire and I was like yeah right.”

In August 2009 Justman stood across Main Street in the parking lot of Hoffert’s service station and watched as her three-story salon went up in flames.

There were huge plumes of smoke that could be seen for miles as fire fighters on ladders worked to knock down the flames.

Now, almost seven years later, the building next door to Justman’s salon was on fire. The sad thing is, she and her husband Homer own that too.

“We bought it in 1985,” said Justman a treasure of this community who lives by the Rotarian creed, ‘service before self.’

Always a smile, a cancer survivor, a long-time green coat for the Chamber of Commerce and a noon Rotarian.

“I normally take my time getting dressed on Mondays but after Bob called he said, ‘Fer real – it’s next door’ and I put on my shoes and hit the door,” Justman said.

The fire at 448 S. Main Street started in an exhaust fan. “There was a bird’s nest in there,” said upstairs tenant Kraig Larsen.

Justman was unclear if a bird brought a cigarette to the nest or if it had pecked at the wires and that’s what sparked the fire.

By the time she arrived there were about “four cop cars and the road was blocked,” she said.

“The tenants were all shook up and they were crying and we had to turn off the power,” said Justman. “I was more caring for them than I thought about myself.”

West Bend fire fighters were on scene about three hours. Most of the visible damage is to the west side of the building. “It took a chunk out of the fascia and it looks like the porch has to be replaced,” she said. “The upstairs tenant was so nice – he only has a one-bedroom apartment but he told the four people downstairs that if they needed a place he could make room.”

There was minor damage Monday when you compare what Justman went through in 2009. Her building could not be occupied after smoke and fire tore through the three stories across from the costume shoppe.

With the help of fellow Rotarians, Justman moved her salvageable items to storage and managed to set up shop in The Little Red House on Walnut Street.

Nobody was injured in Monday’s fire. The amount of damage has yet to be determined.

Insurance adjusters are set to be on scene to access the damage this morning.

  1. Posted by Bob Bonenfant

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