MADISON — Kent Hayden was plowing snow on Pine Street early Thursday morning when he saw a group of logging truckers stopped in the road trying to alert homeowners to a fire on the front porch of a nearby house.

“I just woke up the people in the house, because (the truckers) just spoke French,” said Hayden, of Madison. “I pounded on the door and woke them up. (The truckers) were kicking snow on the fire and put it out.”

Hayden, who works for Merle L. Lloyd and Sons and was plowing snow with another Lloyd employee, Tony Cougler, called 911. The Fire Department was able to put the fire out in about 30 minutes.

The fire’s cause was improperly discarded ashes from a wood stove, Deputy Fire Chief Don French said.

The home, a duplex at 84 and 86 Pine St., belongs to Robert Von Husen, who said he had thrown the ashes into a pile of snow early Thursday before leaving for work as a floor technician for Paramount Building Solutions.

“I thought I had thrown enough snow on it,” said Von Husen, 56. “I’m always very careful with my ashes, and I thought the coals were done.”

French said fire crews had to use a chain saw to knock down the fire inside the walls, but damage to the house was minimal.

Three other people — Von Husen’s girlfriend, her son and his partner — were at home sleeping at the time the fire was reported around 5 a.m.

“They were lucky Merle Lloyd’s crew was out plowing early this morning and saw it,” said French, who said he wasn’t aware that the wood haulers also had stopped. Hayden said he wasn’t sure of the truckers’ names or what company they worked for, but said they are Canadian and frequently transport wood to Madison Paper Industries early in the morning.

“If those Canadians hadn’t been stopped in the road in front of me, I probably wouldn’t have even seen it,” Hayden said. “They were really the ones that noticed it. All I did was make a phone call. I did beat on the door and wake ’em up, I didn’t know if there was kids in the house or not.”

“Anybody would have done the same thing,” he said.

Von Husen doesn’t have insurance. He said Thursday that he wasn’t sure how he would pay for the repairs to his porch, which was charred and partially cut up by firefighters while the fire was being put out.

“That’s the saddest part. I can’t get insurance, and it’s really frustrating,” said Von Husen, who said insurance companies will not insure his nearly 100-year-old house unless he makes repairs, but he doesn’t have the money to make the repairs.

“I’m on a fixed income and I get paid biweekly. I really can’t afford to paint it,” he said.

He was grateful, though, that someone had stopped to help put the fire out, even though he also didn’t know the names of the Canadian truckers.

“I want to thank them for being in the area when it happened,” he said. “I’m glad no one was hurt.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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