Man killed in Green Bay house fire
by Lou Hillman
GREEN BAY – The victim of a fatal fire in Green Bay has been identified by family members as 39-year-old Ken Johnson. He is the son of Brown County Supervisor Kathy Johnson. Lou Hillman has more in this FOX 11 follow-up.
He was a Gulf War veteran and an avid sports fan, but when a fire broke out at Ken Johnson’s Green Bay home on Friday he was powerless to escape and firefighters were equally powerless to help.
The blaze started around noon Friday at 1217 St. Agnes Drive. That’s on Green Bay’s far-west side. Johnson, who was disabled and in a wheelchair, was unable to escape.
"It’s really heartbreaking," Zee Lo, Johnson’s next door neighbor, said. Lo said she watched helplessly as the home next door burned. Johnson’s body was later found inside. Neighbors said he was confined to a wheelchair after a serious car crash. Firefighters believe his condition may have prevented him from escaping. The 39-year-old lived at the home with his fiance and his service dog Max.
"I’ve always known them as a sweet couple. Summer evenings they’ll come out and sit on their patio," Lo added. They are simple memories, but ones neighbors said they will not miss. "It is really hard," Lo said. Firefighters are still trying to determine how the fire started and why it spread so quickly.
"I spoke to the investigators this morning and they told me they have the area of origin pinned down to a quadrant in that rear room where the victim was found," Lt. Nick Craig, with the Green Bay Fire Department, said on Saturday. While battling the blaze, early on, firefighters did enter the home. However, Craig said the fire was too hot and crews were pulled out of the home to fight it from the outside.
"It doesn’t matter if the person is handicapped or not, going into any burning building presents a challenge. It’s dangerous. We try to make every attempt to save peoples lives. In this case, it didn’t happen. It’s very sad," Craig added. An autopsy was being performed Saturday to determine an exact cause of death. Visitation for Ken Johnson will be held at Lyndahl Funeral Home in Green Bay, from 4 – 8 p.m. Monday and again from 10 – 11 a.m. Tuesday. Funeral services will start at 11 Tuesday morning.