A tragic fire that started shortly before 10pm on Valentines Day night in 2010 destroyed the 130 year old Henry Van Hovenberg House on 310 Lake Street, Eau Claire, WI. The home was built in the 1850’s and was on the Eau Claire Landmarks Commission’s Historic Homes list. The house since then was converted into nine apartment mainly rented by UWEC and CVTC students. The night was very cold as the Eau Claire Fire Department responded to the call. The home was fully engulfed and a second alarm was called. The Altoona Fire Department also responded as man power was needed. While the fire fighters worked to gain control of the fire, heavy snow started to fall. The snow blanketed over the frozen ice covered streets and sidewalks which made for very slippery conditions. Clouds of water vapors rose from the house as water was sprayed in. The water being sprayed started to freeze into icicles that hung on the nearby trees. As a photographer the scene was amazing. The action, human element, falling snow, rolling water vapor, and dramatic white and red lights made for incredible photos even though the devastating fire was very tragic. I am glad that no one lost their life in the fire even though losing your belongings and irreplaceable items like photos and family heirlooms is can be very painful. Fire crews had the fire under control around midnight but stayed on scene until 11:30am the next morning. As always, I hope you enjoyed my photography and always be thankful of your local service personnel.
Travis Dewitz is a remarkable photographer in the Chippewa Valley. He is well known for photographing local sceneries, landmarks, venues, buildings and people in various and ingenious ways. Though you not know him personally, his work provides a unique foundation of our local community and his photographs are unmistakable. Dewitz’s pictures are an impressive feat and preserve a moment; long after our travels are over, and our memories faded, photos are what remind us of the adventures we had and the connections to the people we met. Learn more about him here.