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Storms, heavy rain and house fire keep attendance at FATFAR small

CHIPPEWA FALLS, WI (WTAQ) - Thunderstorms and high waters kept thousands of people away from an annual Father's Day inner tube event on the Chippewa River in Chippewa Falls.

The Frenchtown Annual Tube Float and Regatta -- FATFAR for short -- has attracted up to 10,000 participants during its 40 year history.

Sunday, organizers told the Chippewa Herald the crowd would only be around 1,000. That's after more than three inches of rain fell in the region late Saturday and early Sunday -- and law enforcement warned that participants might drown on river currents that got high, faster, and choppier.

Also, tubers got scared off after word of a nearby house fire apparently caused by a lightning strike. That happened close to 6 a.m. Sunday in Lake Hallie.

Owner Joshua Ranney told firefighters that loud thunder woke him up -- and about three hours later, he had his family evacuate after seeing an orange glow through a light fixture in his bathroom.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)