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Saukville firefighters cope with death of colleague

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SAUKVILLE -- Firefighters in Saukville rushed to an apartment fire, only to find a fellow firefighter. Police say 36-year-old Tim Karrels started the fire and then took his own life on Sunday, May 20th.

The Village of Saukville is a small, close-knit community, and firefighters serving in the area have a strong bond. Karrels' colleagues are now mourning the death of one of their own.

"It's very hard to pull somebody out of a fire or car accident when they're on the department. The people who went in to rescue him, it's like a family member you're trying to get out of that fire, and it's very hard on the people who are there," Gilly Schultz, Saukville Fire Chief said.

Firefighters responded Sunday to a fire at an apartment on the upper level of the Saukville Moose Lodge. That's where Karrels lived, and he was off work that night. Heavy smoke was coming from his apartment, and fellow firefighters didn't know whether he was home.

"Basically, I came to the scene, called his name a few times up the staircase. Then, the firefighters went in there," Chief Schultz said.

Police say Karrels had set the fire, and then shot himself.

Chief Schultz said Karrels had been a firefighter for 13 years. He was also a well-known deejay in the community. Schultz says he is doing what he can now to help his department get through this tough time.

"They take it very hard.  Not only are you on the fire department together, but you do activities in your social life together also. You try to tell them that they did their best, and the outcome in this case, wouldn't have been any different. You praise them because they did do an excellent job," Chief Schultz said.

Grief counselors are being made available for firefighters in Saukville.

Chief Schultz said the building could have been a total loss, but good firefighting efforts prevented that.

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