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Fund Created to Help Port Family Who Lost Home in Blaze

Port Washington Fire Chief Mark Mitchell commended Police Officer Jerry Nye and Reserve Officer Michael Kolbach for their 'lifesaving' efforts that got 21-year-old Justin Kriegel out of the July 8 fire safely.

After , members of the Benson and Kriegel family are impresed by efforts to help the group recoup their losses.

Tina Kriegel, fiancee to homeowner Tim Benson, said the outpouring of support and offers for help since the fire at 230 E. Douglas St. has restored Kriegel’s faith in human kindness.

“(I’m) so grateful,” Kriegel said. “With all … the offers for help, it really makes you feel good about people again.”

After hearing of the blaze, Nick Meier, president of Mr. Mover Inc. of Grafton, was moved to help the family.

“I just thought it would be a nice thing to do,” Meier said in an e-mail to Patch. “My family and I were saved by a smoke detector, then the fire department, when I was very young — maybe 5 years old. … Our thoughts are with the Bensons and Kriegels during this difficult time, and hope they can quickly establish a new home.”

The Benson Family Benefit Fund is now set up at the , and people interested in donating to the family can stop by any branch and let the banker know they’d like to make a deposit to that account.

Praise given to officers for 'lifesaving' efforts

Kriegel’s son, Justin, 21, was asleep in the basement when the fire started about 1:30 a.m. July 8. Port Washington Police Officer Jerry Nye and Reserve Officer Michael Kolbach were first on the scene after a neighbor called to report having seen sparks, which she thought were fireworks, Port Washington Fire Chief Mark Mitchell said.

The officers eventually found Justin in the basement and got him out unharmed;  Mitchell said if it hadn’t been for the diligent searching and bravery the outcome wouldn’t have been so good.

“In my opinion, if it were not for the heroic act by Officers Nye and Kolbach, the subject they rescued would have most surely suffered severe, if not, fatal injuries, because of the fire,” Mitchell said in a letter to the police department. Officers were also able to save a family dog, but a family cat was killed in the fire.

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