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‘This time we lost everything’: Dad and daughter escape fire through window

By Kendall Keys

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    GREENFIELD, Wisconsin (WISN) — It’s been five days since a fire at a Greenfield apartment complex, and 15 people still can’t go home. The fire hurt five people, including a father and daughter, who firefighters rescued from a second-floor window.

The flames broke out Wednesday near 61st and Cold Spring Road in Greenfield.

“Because I was the last one out, before I even got to put my leg out, I had a big breath of the smoke. And then, by the time I got on the ladder, the smoke was billowing out of my window,” said Charles Sternlieb.

Sternlieb barely escaped the fire. When the flames erupted, he and his daughter, Sophie, were stuck inside.

“We tried going through the living room, but there was flames at the door,” said Sophie Sternlieb.

The only way out was through the second-floor window.

“Once the ladder came, there was already smoke coming in our room. I busted out the screen,” said Sternlieb.

His daughter first, then Sternlieb made their way down the ladder, leaving behind everything they owned.

“I was panicking at first. And then, as soon as I got onto the ground, I was like, I was very thankful for my life because everything in the house can be replaced, but lives can’t. So I’m thankful that I’m still alive,” said Sophie.

“I didn’t realize what kind of danger we were actually in. My only thought, believe it or not, after we got to about here, was I needed oxygen,” said Sternlieb.

Medics took Sternlieb to a hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

“The attendant in the ambulance said that my whole mouth was black,” said Sternlieb.

The fire is a tragedy for the family, but not their first. Their home also burned in a fire back in 2009.

“Whole kitchen was gone, but all of our belongings were smoke damaged. So we still had all of our photos, all of our memorabilia that we needed, stuff like that we didn’t lose, you know what I’m saying? But this time, we lost everything. I’m sure of it,” said Sternlieb.

Sternlieb lost everything — except his will to push forward.

“I’m smiling. What else can I do? My glass is more half full than half empty,” said Sternlieb.

Sternlieb’s wife and another daughter were not home at the time of the fire. The family is staying with his oldest daughter for now, but said their insurance company is putting them in a hotel soon.

The family organized a GoFundMe page to help them get back on their feet.

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