GREAT FALLS — On Thursday a fire in Sun Prairie cost one family their home of 22 years and the countless memories they’ve acquired in two decades.
Thanks to perseverance and a push from their friends and family, the family is taking the first steps to rise from the ashes and start a new foundation.
Residence owner James Siefke said he was at work when the fire started and by the time he could find shift coverage and get home, it was already too late.
“I had to wait for my relief to come in. I couldn't just lock the store up, there wasn't anything that I could do. By the time I had gotten that far the trailer was already gone,” Siefke said.
Siefke and the four other members of his family living in the trailer at the time lost their home and five pets - four dogs and one cat - and a lifetime of memories.
But Siefke refused to let the disaster tear down his strength: “I have to stay strong for my family. What's done is done. We can't go back. All we can do is move forward. If we fall apart, everything falls apart. You stay strong, you get stuff done. You keep it moving, it goes a lot smoother. The sooner we get this cleaned up, the sooner we can start our new life,” Siefke said.
The first step to starting their life anew is clearing out what remains of their residence - wood, metal, debris, and a few personal belongings that escaped the flames. “Right now the clean up is, in my mind, the most important because until its gone we can't really start anything new. So the sooner we can get this cleaned up and out of here the sooner we can start with the rebuilding and getting everything going,” Siefke said.
Friends and family have volunteered to help lift some of the Siefke’s burden and cut back on the time they’re without a house of their own.
Close friend of the family Jamie Laabs wanted to help the family in some additional way, and set up a GoFundMe to help meet their financial needs. She’s also using her garage as a storage space for any physical donations the family receives.
The GoFundMe page reads, in part: "This family of 5 lost their entire home and everything in it, including their beloved pets, to a house fire. This was home to this loving family for 22 YEARS! And father James, mother Brandi and three teenagers, Jake, Jessyca and Sami lost everything in minutes. Its unfathomable really...Furniture, clothing, blankets...collections, memories, photographs...childrens artwork, friends special gifts, treasures collected over a lifetime together. All gone."