Ron Benoy said his house in the rural town of Fort Winnebago is a “total loss” after a blaze at the property cut short a weekend trip with his wife, Raine.

He’s just thankful his family is safe.

Ron and Raine Benoy were staying at their summer cabin when authorities called them to say firefighters had responded to a structure fire at their rural property at N8893 County Road CX around 4:30 a.m. Sunday.

Portage Fire Chief Clayton Simonson said when firefighters arrived on scene, they saw smoke coming from the back of the house. Firefighters worked for at least seven hours to get the situation under control and extinguish the blaze.

Ron Benoy said his daughter is home from college for the summer. She was hanging out with her boyfriend, but decided to leave the house briefly. The fire broke out while they were gone.

“Thank God they didn’t stay, cause they could have been in that fire,” Ron Benoy said. “But we’re all safe.”

The family’s dog also survived. A pet bird perished in the fire.

Simonson said a cause of the fire has not yet been determined. An investigation is ongoing.

Numerous fire departments and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Portage Fire Department on scene Sunday, Simonson said.

Raine Benoy carried a metal box out to the family’s truck Monday morning as they worked to recover some personal items and met with Portage Fire Inspector Craig Ratz. She said she managed to save Social Security cards and birth certificates, among other crucial documents.

Simonson said the Benoy family had indicated they will stay with either friends or family for the time being.

Ron Benoy said the destroyed structure will need to be demolished in order for the family to later rebuild a new house.

Follow Brad on Twitter @BradMikeAllen or call him at 608-745-3510.

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