WATCH NOW: Kenosha County family who started fund for future home fire victims gets a benefit | Local News



BRISTOL – A local family is working to help ensure future home fire victims receive the emergency help they need.

To celebrate the first anniversary of the Wagner Family Fire Fund, Amy Wagner and her family held a fundraiser Saturday at the Bristol Historical Society, 8323 198th Ave., about eight miles south of Union Grove.

The event included live music, a silent auction, food and beverages, lawn games and a tour of the fire station. Profits are used to provide the organization with “go-bags”. The Wagner Family Fire Fund provides one to each Kenosha County Fire Department so that anyone whose home has been destroyed by fire has additional emergency assistance.

The “go-bags” contain vouchers for hotel rooms, socks, toiletries, a mental health kit, children’s crayons and coloring books, gift cards for clothes and two days meals in chain restaurants in the region. They also include a booklet to guide people through what’s to come.

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Amy Wagner, center, holds her grandson, Walter, 1, as she puts a volunteer sticker on Kristin Zirkelbach at the Wagner Family Fundraising Picnic at the Bristol Historical Society on Saturday.


Amy Wagner was inspired to start the organization after her family’s own experience with a devastating fire.

On a cold night in April 2020 and during the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wagner and his family saw their house burning before their eyes. They didn’t know what to do or where to go, and they escaped the fire with only the clothes on their backs.

Since then, Wagner, of Salem Lakes, has dedicated herself to creating “go-bags” for anyone who needs them.

“We couldn’t move into our new house and let it be like this,” Wagner said. “In the midst of a pandemic, we were so taken care of by our friends, family and neighbors, some of whom we didn’t even know. …I told my husband that we had to pay up front. We started the Wagner Fire Fund to help others.


Pat Leslie, left, and her husband Jerry look at cakes during the silent auction at the Wagner Family Fundraising Picnic at the Bristol Historical Society on Saturday.


Wagner said anyone could be a victim of a home fire, and “go-bags” are incredibly helpful to people in need.

“The night of our fire, without our neighbors opposite, we would not have had accommodation. We only had the clothes on our backs. No shoes, no coats. Nothing. Insurance comes in a few days if you get an insurance check, but we were lucky because we had savings in the bank that we could dip into. But we were really like, ‘Oh my god, what if anyone really needs help.

“We wanted to help people in the first 48 hours after a fire. That’s when you focus on what just happened to you,” she said.

This is where “go-bags” come in.

“Last week we gave out two bags,” she said. “As of today, we have covered the entire county. … People think it won’t be them. You never know. Our fire was a weird thing.

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