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Kettle Moraine coaches evacuated from fire

July 29, 2011

At this rate, Kettle Moraine assistant baseball coaches Andrew Gruman and Jake Burac should anticipate the Wisconsin River turning red or a plague of locusts swooping down on Stevens Point.

As they do every year, the duo made the pilgrimage to Stevens Point to watch the WIAA state summer baseball tournament, and the duo had already endured a Wednesday full of rain pushing the tourney schedule back a day, followed by more torrential rains Thursday that pushed part of the schedule back to Friday.

But at 3:45 a.m. in the morning, when the Super 8 fire alarm went off in downtown Stevens Point, the trip reached a new level of memorable.

"We thought it was a joke," Gruman said. "I walked over to grab my phone by the window air conditioner and I smelled smoke, bad. I've had it happen before where a fire alarm goes off, and it's just that somebody pulled it. I just grabbed a few things, got dressed a little bit, put shoes on and went out."

It wasn't long before the Super 8 roof was gone. Streets were closed and fire departments from all over the area were summoned for what initially appears to have been an electrical fire.
Burac was able to return to the room to retrieve a few things during the evacuation.

"Some people were still coming out, so I got back up there and got (Gruman's) keys," Burac said.

Gruman moved his car safely from the smoke and flames that decimated the third floor. Gruman and Burac had been staying on the second floor just beneath the flames and had made the trip with KM head baseball coach Brian Adamczyk, who left for his cabin Thursday evening and missed the drama.

All of the 37 hotel patrons were safe and transferred to an adjacent hotel. At 7:30 a.m., the unlucky travelers were able to return to their room -- which was completely intact -- and retrieve the remainder of their belongings, none of which were damaged. There were no teams playing in the tournament staying at the hotel.

"It was like a dream," Gruman said, who took a picture of the blaze and posted it to his Twitter account.

Despite the dramatic trip, Gruman said he plans to be back to Stevens Point next July.

"Hopefully, we'll be playing," he said.

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