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Young victims of Pulaski bonfire explosion being treated in Milwaukee as community rallies around them

Investigators say an accelerant was thrown on the flames that caused the fire to expand out of control during a bonfire.
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Posted at 4:35 PM, Oct 18, 2022

MILWAUKEE — A bonfire in Pulaski after the homecoming football game on Friday left dozens injured. The Shawano County Sheriff's Office says between 30 and 40 people were injured after the bonfire exploded.

An accelerant was reportedly thrown on the flames that caused the fire to expand out of control, according to the sheriff's office. They are still asking people to come forward and share more information.

Many of the young victims were rushed to the Columbia St. Mary's Burn Center and UW Health Burn and Wound Clinic in Madison.

Families of those still being treated at Columbia St. Mary's Burn Center find some solace in knowing they are not alone. They are together on the fifth floor.

Lily Koellner from Brookfield was visiting friends in Pulaski. She has serious burns on her face, hands, and legs.

Lily Koellner
Lily Koellner from Brookfield was transferred to Columbia St Mary’s Burn Center from UW Health Burn & Wound Clinic.

Brandon Brzeczkowski will undergo skin graft surgery Wednesday. His mom, Tammy, says doctors are still trying to make sure he doesn't lose his hands.

Brandon Brzeczkowski

With a breathing tube in, he can't talk but has been able to scribble some messages on paper. Tammy shared a heartbreaking message from him saying, "I want to go home."

Brandon Brzeczkowski wrote from his hospital bed to his mom that he wants to go home.

Isaac Nelson is also scheduled for his first surgery on Wednesday. His mom, Julie, shares that the swelling in his face has gone down, and he was able to walk a little and eat for the first time since the bonfire explosion.

Isaac Nelson

Benjamin Van Asten was knocked unconscious when it happened, and his clothes caught on fire. He has burns on over 40% of his body.

Benjamin Van Austen

"There's just people all over that are trying to reach out and help in any way they can," said Mallory Kitchen, who has kids in the Pulaski School District.

There are individual fundraisers for all of the victims, and Kitchen started a collective one.

"When something affects a small town like this, everybody finds out about it very quickly," Kitchen said. "In some of the social media groups, people are like, 'how can we help, what can we do?'"

The money she raises will go to helping those being treated in Milwaukee pay for gas, hotels, and meals. Many of their parents have other children still at home in Pulaski.

"Providing meals for their family still here as these parents are now split between their home and their child that really needs them right now," Kitchen said.

Additionally, a sophomore girl at Pulaski High School and two young men who were also hurt in the bonfire explosion spent days at Columbia St. Mary's Burn Center, but have been released. They are back home, but will still be traveling to Milwaukee over the next month for skin graph surgeries. One of them said in a post online that he is in a lot of pain.

Here is a list of the fundraiser set up for victims:

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