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Amidst flames and destruction, Prescott family feels gratitude

When Gabrielle Hruska first got the phone call that there was smoke coming from her house, she was unsure if her daughter Grace was possibly home. But thankfully her daughter was not in the house. Submitted photo1 / 2
Gabrielle Hruska and her son Sam are currently living in a townhouse in Maplewood after a fire destroyed their house on Dec. 2. Submitted photo2 / 2

During the holiday season many reflect on what they have to be thankful for. In the wake of tragedy, one Prescott woman and her children are finding their own reasons to be thankful.

Gabrielle Hruska of Prescott is still in shock that her Monroe Street house in Prescott may be a total loss after a fire destroyed much of it Saturday, Dec. 2.

Hruska said thankfully she and her two children, Sam (age 10) and Grace (age 19), were not home at the time of the fire, but sadly they lost their dog and cat in the fire.

Gabrielle Hruska's house was engulfed in flames on Dec. 2 as firefighters tried to put out the flames. Submitted photoFighting back emotions, Hruska told the Herald about getting a phone call from an Ellsworth phone number on Dec. 2; when she answered, it was the sheriff's department asking her if anyone was at her house and if she had any pets.

"I thought possibly my daughter had come home to walk the dog," Hruska said she told the police.

At first, she thought maybe her large dog had gotten out and that was why the police were calling. Then she was told that someone had reported smoke coming from her house and that she should get to her house immediately.

After she hung up the phone, Hruska said she still wasn't fully processing what she had been told, so she called her daughter to see where she was. Grace was already in Prescott, so Hruska said she asked her to just go check on the house to see what was going on. When her daughter got to the house and called Hruska back, that is when Hruska said she started to realize what was going on.

"She [Grace] went to the house and called me," Hruska said. "And she just kept saying 'Oh my God.'"

A law enforcement officer took the phone from Hruska's daughter and told Hruska that she needed to get to her house as soon as possible.

When Hruska got to her house, the entire upstairs was already engulfed in flames. She said she watched for four hours as the firemen tried to put out the flames. Finally, she was told it would probably take another couple hours so she should leave and they would let her know. Hruska went back to her niece's house where she had been when she first got the phone call and waited.

As Hruska still waits to know what caused the fire, she said the fire investigator did say the fire started in the kitchen wall and the electrical engineer is looking at the stove as a possibility.

But it will be January before Hruska and her family have more answers. She said in January the electrical engineer, stove manufacturer representative and fire investigator will go to the house to see what they can determine. After that the structural engineer will go to the house and determine if the house is a total loss.

During this time, Hruska hasn't been able to go into the house or see what is left.

"I don't know if there is anything salvageable in the house," Hruska said.

While she waits to see what is happening at her house, her insurance company found her a townhouse in Maplewood to rent. She said she is unsure what will happen from here and she will just wait to see what is determined with her house and make decisions after that.

"A lot of sadness right now, don't want to make decisions while in a place of trauma," Hruska said. "Right now still holding tight and trying to enjoy holidays."

The support of the community has been overwhelming to Hruska and she said in small towns, events like hers really affect everyone.

"This is a really frightening thing to happen in a small community," Hruska said. "The community has been amazing. We feel really loved. I feel really thankful for that."

Hruska said she has lived at her Prescott house for 20 years and it is the only home her children have known, so when she thinks about that, the situation seems overwhelming. However, she said even through the sadness she is lucky that her family is okay and they have many people supporting them.

"We've been through the sadness and loss, but have an underlying sense of gratitude for everything people have done," Hruska said.

A Hruska Family Benefit is set up at the First National Bank of Prescott and River Falls for anyone who would like to contribute to the family.