Retired Mukwonago firefighter's home burned, dog killed

A Mukwonago man put out fires for decades, and on Sunday, Feb. 19, his own home burned.

In retired firefighter Gregg Jablonowski's time of need, the community is returning the favor. 

"It was a unique house," said Jablonowksi. 

Tucked away on a hill on Beulah Road in Mukwonago, the home was a total loss after Sunday's fire. 

"The design was really nice," said Jablonowksi. "There was a lot of potential for our family."

Mukwonago home (before fire)

Mukwonago house fire

The Mukwonago Fire Department arrived around 5 p.m. to see flames coming through the roof. The two-story house had an exposed basement and was set on a hill with an uphill driveway that made getting water on the fire more difficult. The rural setting also made it difficult to get water to the scene.

"I was a firefighter for 10 years and always cared about everyone else’s house, and when I saw my own, it was heartbreaking," said Jablonowksi.

Smoke and flames could be seen for miles. Jablonowksi said he had just left his house.

"I checked the fireplace, made sure the door was closed," said Jablonowksi. 

Then he got the call.

"When I got back, it was already fully engulfed," said Jablonowksi.

Jablonowski said the fire started in the kitchen. The flames went all the way up to the ceiling and took over the entire house. He said the only thing that was salvageable was the garage. His wife and kids weren't home.

"Just our dog, that was it, and I tried to save him," said Jablonowksi. "It was on fire in the back, so I couldn’t get to him fast enough."

Their dog, Diesel, didn't make it.

"He always protected everybody," said Jablonowksi. "He knew if I was having a bad day or anything, and he always come up and make sure I was OK."

Jablonowski served his community for decades. Now, that community is returning the favor.

"It’s amazing," said Jablonowksi. "Every time I look at my phone, I cry because I can’t believe it."

Family and friends created a GoFundMe page, sent clothing donations, and offered options to get them back on their feet.

"It’s been unbelievable," said Jablonowksi. "I never thought anybody would help us like that."

The family plans to rebuild. For now, it's the little things getting them through.

"We found my own fire badge, so my son says he wanted to keep it, and he’s been wearing it every day since," said Jablonowksi.