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One dead in Thursday house fire
Times photos: Gary Mays Ashes and little else remain of a house on County P, following a fast-moving fire early Thursday morning that claimed the life of one unidentified victim. More than 13 area fire departments battled the blaze. Authorities said a man ran inside the house at one point with a fire extinguisher, but never came out.
TOWN OF CLARNO - A fast-moving moving fire inside a rural farmhouse early Thursday morning claimed one life, but authorities are awaiting the results of an autopsy to confirm the victim's identity.

That autopsy is scheduled for today, said Lt. Rodney Hicks, of the Green County Sheriff's Department, adding that it is necessary due to the condition of the remains - discovered after the blaze was finally brought under control.

Deputies arriving on the scene at W6429 County P were told someone had entered the two-story, wood-frame house with a fire extinguisher but had not come back out, according to an earlier statement from Lt. Paul Weichbrod, also from the sheriff's department.

Weichbrod said firefighters on the scene "made an aggressive attempt to fight the fire and search the house for the person believed to be inside."

But fire crews were pulled from the house - for their own safety - after about 35 minutes, he added.

The initial fire call came at 12:13 a.m., with the caller reporting flames in the basement. The caller also told dispatchers that other people on the scene were working to get everyone out of the home, Weichbrod reported.

Monroe Fire Chief Daryl Rausch said the fire started near a wood furnace in the home's basement.

Near the scene at about 12:45 a.m. Thursday, smoke from the fire could be seen for miles around, and the night was filled with sirens from the 13 area departments who responded to calls for mutual assistance.

Tanker trucks from those departments were seen ferrying water to reinforce other crews, and police were posted at the intersection of County P and Wisconsin 69 to control traffic to the scene.

Still smoldering embers and debris late Thursday were a testament to the fire's strength. At least one flare-up also was reported Thursday night.

Hicks said the cause of the fire has not been officially determined.

"There's no reason to believe it is suspicious, but it is still under investigation," he said

In addition to Monroe, fire departments from Oak Grove, New Glarus, Monticello, Brodhead, Orfordville, South Wayne, Juda, Albany, Browntown, Cedarville, McConnell, and Winslow assisted with the blaze.

The Red Cross, Green County Emergency Management, and state fire marshals responded, along with deputies from the Green County Sheriff's Department and a detective.