Editor's note: The residents were unable to return to 109 Knaup Drive on Thursday. There is no intent to allow anyone back in due to safety concerns.
Kathy Hagen’s longest conversation with the clean-cut young man who lived in Apt. 11 at 109 Knaup Drive in Beaver Dam was when he complimented her about her dog.
She thanked him, but at that point had no ideas about the activities the man was doing when he closed his apartment door.
“When I’d see him in passing, he’d say ‘hi’ or ‘hello,’ but one day he said, ‘Cute dog,’” Hagen said. “He had the intention of blowing up my little Pogo.”
The yet to be identified man likely died accidentally Monday after working with the explosives that blew up in his apartment Monday, according to the FBI.
The material he was handling was deemed hazardous enough that a controlled detonation was used to clear the apartment. The damage caused by the two explosions has left the residents of the building homeless, as the Beaver Dam Police Department said the building will need to be demolished.
“Based on current investigations, there are still ongoing concerns about remnant explosive materials that still may be inside the entire building,” the police department said in a press release Thursday night. “Investigative findings and structural concerns, the building has been determined a total loss. Immediate plans are being made for total removal of the building.”
Residents have returned to the other buildings in Village Glen. Police will continue to maintain perimeter security to the 109 building, according to the release.
Hagen and her daughter, Noelle, who lives in Oshkosh, had just returned from lunch at 1 p.m. Monday and were talking about rental insurance when a moment happened that they will never forget.
“We heard a huge blast like fireworks or a cherry bomb,” Hagen said. “The living room wall bent in and the pictures fell off and it bent back again. It was surreal.”
She said Psalm 18:2 (“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer”) went through her head as she grabbed her Bible, her coat and her dog before running out of the apartment. Police came soon after.
The days since then have been a blur of activity with information coming out sporadically about the fate of the apartment building and the man who lived in the upstairs unit.
Hagen said she did not know the name of the neighbor living on the floor above her, but he was always well-dressed and groomed and appeared to be in his 20s.
“He was always carrying a backpack, but a lot of people do,” Hagen said.
Police did not say when the building would be razed, and building owner William Graper did not respond to an email Thursday.
“Fifteen units of us have to look for a new home,” Hagen said. “We are all homeless now. There was everyone from a newborn to an elderly woman with a walker.”
She said residents are still shocked.
“We lived there with all those explosives yards away from us,” Hagen said. “The garage was full of explosives.”
Everyone from the Red Cross to the law enforcement on the scene has been wonderful to work with, Hagen said. It was an FBI agent who called her at work Tuesday night to tell her that they were getting her two cats out, and she explained that they would be skittish.
“We’ll get them out,” the FBI agent said.
Hagen said she would like to return to an apartment in Village Glen.
“It was a great place to live,” Hagen said. “It’s very convenient and friendly. I hope to get another apartment in that building.”