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Fire at Kenosha's Civil War Museum Not Expected to Delay Opening

A fire caused $200,000 in damage to Kenosha's Civil War museum recently. Fortunately, no artifacts were damaged in the blaze.
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KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) _ A fire caused $200,000 in damage to Kenosha's Civil War museum Saturday, but the director didn't think it would delay the upcoming opening.

The museum is scheduled to open for a gala event on Friday night and be open to the public for one day on Saturday.

Kenosha Public Museums Director Paula Touhey said Sunday those events would likely be held as scheduled. She also saw no problem with the grand opening on June 14 and 15.

"Our intention right now is to go ahead with it," Touhey said. "If something is discovered that we don't know about, maybe we won't. But it's only going to be a day-and-a-half. Once it's cleaned up, it's not going to be very noticeable."

She said there were no artifacts on display at the time of the fire and the damage is mostly to a janitor's closet and a section of wood floor.

Kenosha Fire Battalion Chief Matt Haerter said the fire appeared to be active for hours before a maintenance worker heard alarms go off around 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

The fire was caused by a pile of oil-soaked rags that spontaneously combusted in a first-floor janitor's closet, Haerter said.

The sprinkler system appeared to have been on for hours and was able to keep the fire under control before firefighters showed up. A significant amount of smoke was produced, he said.

He estimated there was $200,000 in damage, based on costs associated with thoroughly removing smoke residue from the building, repairing the fire-damaged closet and tending to the floor.

Touhey said she felt the damages would be manageable.

For more information on the museum, visit

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