Family displaced a second time by fire

Madonna Brenner looks at the pictures she has on her iPad after two fires destroy almost everything

FOND DU LAC - Cleaning and construction crews worked Saturday and Sunday to repair a fire-damaged Comfort Inn.

Officials say the Friday morning fire caused an estimated $250,000 in damage. The hotel, located off of U.S. 41 on Fond du Lac's south side, was a temporary home for one woman and her family.

As Madonna Brenner scrolls through the pictures on her iPad, it starts to bring back memories.

“It has the good and the bad, everything all in one but even the worst memories that are on here,” said Brenner.

It’s one of the few items she has left after a fire forced her to move out of her apartment.

“We were moving boxes into the house one morning and my 10-year-old asked if she could light the candle that we always light on the table and I told her yes. While we were down in the garage getting boxes, we came back in to find the smoke alarms going off,” she said.

A fake plant caught fire. It was a sound and smell Brenner says she will never forget.

“[It was] a sickening feeling,” she said.

But little did she know three months later, that feeling would be back again.

“My heart sunk into my stomach all over again,” she said.

The Fond du Lac hotel where she and her family had been staying caught fire.

Brenner says the hardest part is replacing her children’s clothes, blankets, and toys for the second time.

“They’ve got to be sick of losing everything. Not knowing what they have, getting something back and getting it taken away again but they’re strong,” she said.

Brenner says, right now, life isn't easy.

"How am I going to find the strength for tomorrow? What’s going to happen next? If this could happen twice, what else could happen," questioned Brenner.

The mother of four says despite it all, she refuses to give up.

“It’s the simple smile of my children. Whether they smile once a day or five times a day, that one smile keeps me going,” she said.

For the past couple of days, Brenner has been staying with friends in Oconto and Green Bay.

“I have some of the most amazing friends that have kept us strong in this whole situation,” she said.

In the meantime, Brenner says she’s looking for a new home and this experience has taught her not to take even the small things for granted.

The hotel where Brenner was staying said its goal was to have the rooms available by Sunday night.