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Bar owner dies trying to save others during fire


BLANCHARDVILLE, Wis (WSAU) The owner of a burned-out tavern in Blanchardville died while trying to save three others who were killed. Authorities said 45-year-old Daniel Hardekopf was found in a stairwell on the lower-level of the three-story building, and he died later at a Monroe hospital.

His 44-year-old girlfriend Jelayne Hughes was found on the second-floor apartment level, along with two of the couple’s mutual friends – 34-year-old Brian Monte and 23-year-old Cody Olson. The fire was reported just after 3:20 yesterday morning in a building that housed the Silver Dollar Saloon, which Hardekopf and Hughes operated.

The Wisconsin State Journal said Monte and Olson were staying in the couple’s apartment after a night of poker and watching football. Duane Hanson, the building’s insurer and a long-time friend, said Hardekopf leased the bar for a year-and-a-half. And he was in the process of buying the 106-year-old building.

Hanson told the paper it was no surprise Hardekopf died while trying to save the others – because he’d sacrifice himself to help anyone. Damage could exceed 300-thousand dollars. The fire was thought to have started on the second floor, but the cause has not been determined. Federal and state agents are helping local authorities investigate.