Debris smolders at the site of former Wisconsin senator and gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Vinehout's rural Alma home.

The rural Alma home of former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Vinehout was destroyed by fire on Saturday.



According to the Buffalo County Sheriff’s Department, Vinehout and her husband, Douglas Kane, were awoken at about 1 a.m. by fire alarms in their house and shortly after realized their house was engulfed in flames.

They told law enforcement that the fire started because they left their fireplace on before they went to bed, the sheriff’s office said in a statement. They were the only ones in the house.

A neighbor called the fire department after she awoke to see the house on fire. By the time units arrived, a third of the house was in flames. Six fire departments were called to the scene, but were unable to put it out, the sheriff’s office said.

“Fire departments responded but were hampered in fighting the fire due to weather and road conditions near the fire’s location,” Sheriff Michael Schmidtknecht said.

According to a Facebook post, Vinehout’s family was safe but everything was destroyed in the fire.

A Facebook fundraiser seeking $20,000 to help the family rebuild had raised more than $22,000 as of 5 p.m. Monday.

In a statement, Vinehout and Kane said: “Our family is eternally grateful for all the love and support everyone’s shown us these past couple days. Between the texts, calls, food and clothes from strangers, and donations on the Facebook fundraiser, we couldn’t ask for a more resounding response in these troubled times. We’re beyond blessed to be a part of this community. Thank you.”

Vinehout was elected to the Senate in 2006 and re-elected in 2010 and 2014. She did not seek re-election last year because she ran for governor. She placed fourth among 10 candidates who appeared on the Democratic primary ballot.

She considered running for governor in 2014, but decided not to after breaking her arm in a car crash. She ran in the 2012 gubernatorial recall primary, coming in third.

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