UPDATE: La Crosse man accused of starting fire that killed dog

One person hospitalized


LA CROSSE (WKBT) — A La Crosse man was arrested Wednesday on arson charges after police say he set the fire sent one person to the hospital and killed a dog on La Crosse’s North Side.

Brandon HelkeBrandon M. Helke, 29, faces charges of arson, intimidating a victim, mistreating animals, battery, battery, disorderly conduct while armed and felony bail jumping, according to the La Crosse Police Department.

Police say Helke pointed a gun at another person in the residence during a domestic incident. The victim was able to leave the resident, but Helke later set fire to the home on the 2000 block of Onalaska Court.

The home was condemned by the City of La Crosse later that morning due to the damage.

Several neighbors didn’t realize the fire was happening until it was over.

“I didn’t even know there was a house fire until I, like I said, when I got up this morning and had the news on and it said that there was a fire on the north side,” said Patricia Dawes, a neighbor.

Others saw it from their window.

“My husband was on the computer at three in the morning when he saw all the lights out there; we never heard any sirens,” said Marlene Duckworth, a neighbor. “I was just concerned about my husband’s friend and his son.”

Other neighbors chose not to speak on the investigation due to the sensitivity of the story.

Police say the investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact the La Crosse Police Department at 608-782-7575. To remain anonymous, contact La Crosse Area Crime Stoppers at 608-784-TIPS or submit online at https://www.p3tips.com/459. You can also download the Crime Stoppers App “P3” to submit a tip via your phone.

Previous story

An investigation is underway into what started an early morning house fire in North La Crosse that sent one person to the hospital and killed a dog.

The alarm went out around 1:20 a.m. Wednesday morning to a home on Onalaska Court. La Crosse Fire Department, La Crosse Police, Tri-State Ambulance and La Crosse County Animal Control responded.

Crews say the location of the home made it a challenge to get to the fire. They had to access the building from the alley between Onalaska Court and Livingston Street.

It took crews about an hour to get the fire under control. Witnesses say the flames flared up several times.

“The conditions in the structure, there was a lot of content in the structure that made it difficult the fire,” La Crosse Fire Captain Jim Hillcoat said. “So it did take a while to get the fire completely under control.” Hillcoat said it appears the fire spread from the first floor to the second floor.

One person escaped the burning building. Tri-State Ambulance transported them to a local hospital for treatment of  smoke inhalation. Firefighters did not have an update to that person’s condition.

One dog died in the fire. However, firefighters revived another dog found inside the burning home. Now, the animal is in the care of La Crosse County Animal Control for treatment.

Fire officials say the house has significant fire, smoke and water damage.

Recent News Headlines from News 8 Now  
Woman taken into custody for OWI after crashing car in Vernon Co. 
Holmen School Board keeps ‘It’s Perfectly Normal’ on middle school shelves after appeal for removal 
Modernization highlighted as key element of La Crosse Center renovation 
High Wind Warning: La Crosse forecasters predict unique weather system for region