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Fire destroys a Farmington family's home

A Farmington family lost its home after a fire broke out in the garage early Sunday morning.

Darcy and Pam Zehnder and their daughter were awakened to the sound of fire alarms at about 2:30 a.m., Pam said. The family got out of the house, and they were able to get one of their two dogs out as well.

"By the time we got out, flames were just shooting out of the garage," Pam said.

The Zehnders have lived at their Flagstaff Avenue home for 14 years. All they could do was watch their home burn as they waited for firefighters from Farmington and Lakeville to respond.

Getting to the Zehnders' home was not an easy task, said Farmington fire marshal John Powers. Though Flagstaff Avenue is being reconstructed and fire hydrants are being added as part of that project, the water was not available for this fire. Lakeville brought two tanker trucks to the scene to provide water.

A drop tank - a large, pool-like temporary tank - was set up at the base of the hill where the Zehnder home sat, and hoses were snaked up to the house.

Firefighters were able to locate and save the family's two pet cats. The second family dog escaped from the home after firefighters broke a window, allowing the dog to exit the burning home, Pam said.

The house burned for several hours. Friends and family brought lawn chairs and coolers of water and snacks. Later Sunday morning, Pam joked that they would have roasted marshmallows, but the marshmallows were in the house.

"You never think it's going to happen to you," she said. "It just happened so fast."

After the flames were extinguished, a few Farmington firefighters remained on the scene with Powers to try to pinpoint the origin of the fire. Preliminary investigation shows that the fire started on the south side of the garage, he said, but the cause is undetermined.

Pam says they definitely want to rebuild on the property. When that will be remains to be seen, and she knows the next few weeks will be challenging.

"I'm just in shock. We've been here 14 years," she said. "It's just... unbelievable."

The family also lost two vehicles to the blaze, as well as a couple of new jet skis, and a home theater system they had recently purchased.

"But at least we're all safe," she said. "That's the main thing."

The family will stay with Pam's sister in the days and weeks to come.