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Wisconsin roundup: Dells-area fire inflicts $5M in damage; standoff in Eau Claire; more state news stories

Delton firefighters battle a blaze Thursday, Jan. 25, at a Wilderness Resort building under construction. Photo courtesy of Delton Fire Department

WISCONSIN DELLS — Delton Fire Department officials say a fire at an employee dormitory that broke out Thursday morning near the Wilderness Lodge in Wisconsin Dells caused more than $5 million in damages.

Officials say wilderness security noticed smoke at the construction site of the Wilderness Resort J-1 dorm just before 4 a.m. Officials say fire crews arrived at the scene at around 4:10 a.m. to find the three-story new construction building engulfed in flames. A nearby dormitory that was threatened by fire was immediately evacuated. Fire crews worked to protect neighboring structures, but two of them were damaged. The fire was brought under control at around 5 a.m., but crews remained on scene most of the morning monitoring hot spots.


Eau Claire standoff closes roads, nearby businesses

EAU CLAIRE — A standoff at Royal Credit Union in Eau Claire Thursday afternoon closed roads and shut down at least five nearby businesses.

Police had responded to a holdup alarm at about noon. They were told a person inside the credit union was making threats and was saying he had a bomb. The bank was evacuated and the suspect refused to come out for four-and-a-half hours. When he did surrender, he was taken to a hospital for evaluation. Eau Claire Police say it's possible the man won't be charged if he was suffering through a medical issue. His name hasn't been released.


Man charged with killing pit bull puppy

WISCONSIN RAPIDS — A 27-year-old Wisconsin Rapids man with a violent criminal history is charged with killing a pit bull puppy.

A witness tells police Kyle Fiegel threw the dog at a wall, then slammed him straight down onto the kitchen floor, calling it "power bombing." A veterinarian confirmed the puppy had a broken leg and other severe injuries. Fiegel could get up to three-and-a-half years in prison, if he is convicted. Authorities say he has other violent crimes on his record, including domestic battery three years ago.


Tanning salon owner accused of peeping

RHINELANDER — A woman customer says she was naked when the owner of a Rhinelander tanning salon looked over a wall at her.

She says David Meinnert then told her he is "an old pervert." The 69-year-old business owner has been charged with invasion of privacy in a public place. He is free on bond, but has to stay away from Sunburst Tanning, or any facility which has locker rooms available to the public. Meinnert reportedly told police detectives he was curious to see the woman naked and said it was the first time he'd done something like that. If convicted, he could get up to nine months behind bars.


Wood County judge to determine if convicted killer gets new trial

WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Wood County Circuit Judge Gregory Potter will decide whether a 20-year-old man now in prison will get a new trial.

Potter has heard testimony from a trial attorney and a doctor about the case of Miguel Oertel, who shot his ex-girlfriend's mother to death in April 2016. Investigators say Oertel killed Theresa Coates at her rural home near Wisconsin Rapids after Coates’ daughter told him she was ending their relationship. The judge will determine whether Oertel was insane at the time of the shooting. Oertel has maintained it was an accident.


Marinette County communications interrupted by fire damage

MARINETTE — A major fire Thursday morning at a vacant building in Marinette damaged a fiber optic line, interrupting internet service and knocking out some emergency communications.

Fire crews were called to the former Marinette Knitting Mills site at about 10:50 a.m. The Marinette County Sheriff's Office says it had started having problems with its internet, email and telephone service. Emergency dispatchers and 911 services were maintained by switching to a backup system. No injuries were caused by the fire.


Jury goes for lesser charge in fatal shooting at Madison group home

MADISON — A 26-year-old Fitchburg man could serve up to 85 years for a fatal shooting at a Madison group home in December 2016.

The Dane County jury found Ali Hassan guilty of the lesser charge of homicide by intoxicated use of a firearm. He had been charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Fatoumatta Jallow. He was also convicted of attempted first-degree intentional homicide for wounding 32-year-old Julie Connors, who worked with Jallow. Hassan will be sentenced in about two months. No specific motive for the crime was given.


2 Wis. locations among 182 Toys R Us stores to be closed

MADISON — Two Wisconsin locations are on the list of Toys-R-Us stores to be closed.

The toy chain filed for bankruptcy in September and released a list of 182 stores to be closed as part of a court filing this week. It said the stores on that list had failed to meet its performance standards. The stores in Wisconsin to be shuttered are on Bluemound Road in Brookfield and Zeier Road in Madison. As many as 4,500 workers could be affected nationwide. Going-out-of-business sales are to start next month, with doors closing for the final time in April.