Norwalk bar destroyed in fire


The Place Fire

The Place Fire
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The early moments of the fire (photo courtesy of Barb Ornes)


UPDATED 9:38 p.m. Friday

A suspected electrical fire consumed The Place in Norwalk on Thursday.

Starting in the late afternoon, the fire appeared to have begun in a wall and quickly reached the attic, according to witnesses. About 10 patrons were in the bar when the fire broke out; Barb Von Ruden, an employee of Community State Bank, which is next door, first saw flames and notified the bar customers. Nobody was hurt in the blaze, which was called in at 4:29 p.m.

The Norwalk, Wilton, Ontario, Sparta, Tomah and Oakdale fire departments responded to the fire, as did the Wilton Police Department, the Wilton Ambulance Service, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, the Monroe County Highway Department, Muehlenkamp Excavating, Madison Gas, and Xcel Energy. In all, about 50 firefighters were on the scene, said Norwalk Police Chief Jim Stoikes. 

Emergency personnel left the scene at 11:21 p.m., Stoikes noted, after using about 200,000 gallons of water. 

The Cunitz family owns The Place and ran a tavern out of the building for decades. An investigation into the fire is set for Saturday morning. 

Built in 1903, the upstairs of the building once had been used as gymnasium space for basketball games and roller skating.

A GoFundMe page for the Cunitz family is available at

♦ ♦ ♦ 

The upper front wall collapses. (Video courtesy of Barb Ornes)

The side wall is torn down. 


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