UPDATED: Saukville Firefighter Committed Suicide and Set Apartment Ablaze, Police Say

The body of Tim Karrels, a 13-year veteran of the Saukville Department, was found after firefighters responded to fire in the Saukville Moose Lodge on Green Bay Avenue.

The State Fire Marshall concluded Monday that Tim Karrels, 36, started a fire in his apartment and committed suicide by gunshot Sunday night above the Moose Lodge on Green Bay Avenue in Saukville, where he was removed by responding firefighters and pronounced dead in an ambulance.

Karrels was a Saukville firefighter, a DJ, and owner of in Port Washington.

Earlier Sunday night, Karrels went to for a burger and a soda, like he did almost every week, bar owner Jody Schwanz said. From watching security camera footage and talking to the bartender who was there, Schwanz said he seemed to be in the same good mood he always sported, cheerily conversing at the bar.

"Everybody knew him here at the bar," Schwanz said. "He was always happy, and there was nothing different last night."

Schwanz was unsure of the time frame, but estimated he was at the bar from about 8:30 to 9:15 p.m.

A neighbor called police at about 9:45 p.m. Sunday night when he smelled smoke outside the Moose Lodge building, which has two apartments on the second floor.

A responding Saukville police officer entered the building and felt that Karrels' door was hot, according to Saukville Police Chief Bill Meloy. The officer kicked in the door and yelled for Karrels, who he knew lived there. Karrels is a 13-year veteran of the Saukville Fire Department.

"He didn't get any response, and the smoke was so thick, he had to withdraw," Meloy said.

When the fire department arrived, they pulled Karrels out of the building, and Karrels was pronounced dead in an ambulance at 10:31 p.m.

Meloy said nobody was home in the other apartment in the building, and the fire was contained to Karrels' apartment. He said the apartment kitchen and living room were extensively damaged.

The outside of the building Monday looked unscathed except for broken windows on the side of the building. Meloy said the windows were not broken when the department arrived and could have been broken during rescue water spraying.

Several fire departments responded to the scene Sunday night. Meloy estimated there were about 50-75 responding officials.

A firefighter, dart supplier, and DJ

Many of the responding officers and firefighters Sunday night personally knew Karrels from his work with the fire department. Word spread quickly Monday morning to his family and friends.

"He was always on the job, on the scanner, trying to help out when he could," Ann Dohms, a friend and owner of The Spot in Port Washington, said.

Karrels also owned in Port Washington, and was a popular local DJ. A sign posted on his business window Monday morning read, "You will be missed, brother! We <3 you, forever!"

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Dohms, who has known Karrels about 20 years, had him DJ her wedding.

"Tim was a good guy, and he loved his karaoke and DJing," Dohms said. "He always had a great show and loved being with people."

About two weeks ago, Dohms moved in above Karrels' store and said they would often chat about business.

"We would always talk about owning a business and what a struggle it can be sometimes," Dohms said. "We'd vent to each other about our businesses and try to cheer each other up when we had a bad day ... He will be very missed."

jackie May 21, 2012 at 03:47 PM
My heart goes to the family, my sincere condolences on their loss
Rik Kluessendorf May 21, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Oh, Tim...
Jennifer M. May 21, 2012 at 06:10 PM
RIP Tim. Sending thoughts and prayers to his family and friends. So sad.
Dick Hertzer May 21, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Greg May 21, 2012 at 09:26 PM
This is a sad story, don't be such a dick, Dick.
Terry May 21, 2012 at 09:36 PM
It is a sad story. It's too bad that he couldn't find some peace in this world, and I hope he finds it in the next. But, starting the fire was inexcusable. He put others in danger, including the responding officers and his fellow fire fighters that had to fight it. It is fortunate that he was the only victim, and that this story remains a sad story, instead of a worse tragedy.
Hector May 22, 2012 at 12:08 AM
I miss you my friend, RIP.
CGibbons May 22, 2012 at 12:58 AM
To Dick and Terry: FO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Beffards May 22, 2012 at 06:13 AM
I knew Tim for many years. I am both sick and sad after hearing of his death. I am still in shock. I have to agree with Terry though. No matter how depressed or sad or whatever.........he put others in danger by doing what he did. I don't understand that at all. It's not the Tim I knew and loved. He would have gladly given his life for another FF........it just makes no sense.........
Rik Kluessendorf May 22, 2012 at 01:21 PM
There are a lot of details missing on the fire. Tim was a friend of mine, too. While I know he was in a pretty dark place the last few months, let's not jump to conclusions on whether he set his place on fire as part of his plan. The report, at this time, doesn't say that he INTENTIONALLY started the fire. I'd been in his place before... he liked to smoke cigarettes. Until I hear it reported officially otherwise, I won't jump to the conclusion that he set the fire on purpose.
Jennifer M. May 22, 2012 at 01:36 PM
I agree with Rik. I think people should wait for all the facts. Lets not jump to conclusions and speak negatively of a man who certainly needed his friends and family and didn't know how to reach out.
Jill May 22, 2012 at 02:02 PM
My heart tells me that Tim did not start the fire intentionally~he was a firefighter involved in rescue efforts to save people and would not have endangered anyone, even out of desperation. I hope they are able to gather the information needed to prove what really happened. My condolences to family :(
Morgan Zimmermann May 22, 2012 at 02:03 PM
I love you Uncle Timmy. I will miss you <\3
Ken Post May 22, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Prayers for the family. No matter what happened, Tim is still Tim. We love him, no matter what.
Lyssa Beyer (Editor) May 22, 2012 at 05:53 PM
I would like to write an article remembering Tim Karrells to appear on Patch later this week. If any friends or family have stories about Tim, or photos you would like to share, please e-mail Lyssa.Beyer@patch.com. My condolences on your loss.
debra May 22, 2012 at 09:58 PM
I'm sure everyone who knew Tim will miss him. He was an asset to our department. Tim was a sweet and caring man. I'm so sorry that we were not able to lift him out of his dark place to again find happiness in life.
Jaime Sommers May 28, 2012 at 02:00 AM
While it's natural to get jumpy about the dangers of "the fire", blaming the guy who is gone for anything doesn't accomplish anything trophy-worthy. Stick to condolences for people who've passed on, especially so close in time to the loss, to avoid extra injury to family and friends. Blame and shame just adds insult to injury. Unless we all know what it's like to have major depression and a brain injury of recent status, we may not have a clue what could possibly have led to this, and all we can do is grieve our friend, brother, jokester, DJ ... now. Condolences, all. Party on, Tim.


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