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!"
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."