Couple keeps perspective after home burns againIt happened again. Early last Friday morning, fire destroyed the home of Ed and Doris Charbonneau — for the second time. The Lake Nebagamon couple watched as the blaze spread from their attached garage into the house where they planned to retire.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
It happened again.
Early last Friday morning, fire destroyed the home of Ed and Doris Charbonneau — for the second time. The Lake Nebagamon couple watched as the blaze spread from their attached garage into the house where they planned to retire.
But there was no doom or gloom in Ed’s voice during a phone conversation Wednesday. In fact, his first question was “How are you, dear?”
That’s to be expected, say those who know the couple. They are able to focus on the positive.
“Everybody’s safe and sound,” Ed said, and they were able to salvage about 90 percent of their clothes.
“The local laundromat is up a couple $100 in quarters,” he joked.
Their youngest son, who was living at home with them after finishing his service in the U.S. Air Force, lost everything but the clothes on his back, Doris said. His brothers have stepped in to provide clothing and other items.
Ed tipped his hat to the volunteer firefighters from Nebagamon, Poplar, Maple and Highland who came to put out the blaze.
“For people who volunteer their time, they do amazing work,” he said.
And the couple plans to rebuild on their Degerman Road property, just as they did 13 years ago.
“This is home,” Doris said.
“We’re surrounded by good people out here,” said her husband.
The Charbonneaus settled in Lake Nebagamon as newlyweds, raising five boys — including a set of triplets — and volunteering throughout the community, from the fire department to the auditorium stage. Ed is well-known for such colorful roles as a newly-thawed Viking and for roaring into the auditorium on a motorcycle. Even being pregnant with her youngest son, Nathan, didn’t keep Doris from the stage.
“They have contributed a great deal,” said Kay Coletta, a longtime Nebagamon resident who winters in Arizona. “It would be a terrible loss to our community if they didn’t rebuild.”
The first time the Charbonneaus’ home burned down was 13 years ago. They were left with a smoking hole in the ground and no insurance. The community held a benefit to raise money to pay off their debt, but it took years before they could rebuild.
This time, fire walls kept much of the damage at bay and the insurance company has already stepped up to help. They were able to save three vehicles and both of them have steady work, something not everyone can say these days.
“It isn’t as bleak as it looks,” Ed said. “And there’s people in the county that are hurting just as much as we are, just in different ways.”
They found that out when someone stole two flat screen TVs and a Wii gaming console out of the burned house.
“It just kind of makes you shake your head that people are in that dire of straights to go through somebody else’s fire,” Ed said.
The burglary took place between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, according to a Douglas County Sheriff’s Department report.
“All items will have heavy smoke damage or a smell,” wrote Deputy Richard Schnell. Anyone with information on the burglary can leave a message for Schnell at 395-1692.
As for the Charbonneaus, their sons helped them clean up the site over the weekend.
“We’re holding our own,” Doris said, and looking for a place to rent on a month-by-month basis.
“It ‘taint good, but it ‘taint all that bad,” said her husband. “It ‘taint catastrophic.”
Anyone interested in helping the Charbonneau family can contact Trinity Lutheran Church at (715) 374-2812.