BEECHER, Wis. - The Carey and Melissa Hirte family say community support has helped them rebuild following a house fire last December.
"We got out with the clothes we had on," said Melissa Hirte of the Dec. 19, 2010 fire that destroyed their home at N16685 Smeester School Road in Beecher. "We were pretty devastated, but community support was huge and made a big difference."
With insurance covering the loss of their home, the family was able to rebuild on their 70-acre property.
Pembine residents Carey and Melissa Hirte are ready to move into their newly constructed home. The Hirtes lost their home to a fire before Christmas last year.
Lisa M. Hoffmann/Daily News Photo
The Hirte family said they didn't want to move because they like the Pembine area and it has been their home for more than 20 years.
The couple has three children, Brittani, 20; Austin, 19; and Mackenna, 9.
The family's original home and property has been in the family for five generations.
Originally owned by Harold and Pearl Hirte, Carey Hirte said his grandfather, Harold, built the home in 1946-47.
"We did find my grandmother's wedding ring. Erickson Jewelers of Iron Mountain cleaned it and looks brand new," Melissa Hirte said.
Carey Hirte is grateful for everybody that helped them after the fire.
"It was such a whirlwind after; we couldn't keep track of who did what," he said.
Carey Hirte noted the family was in shock for a few days after the fire.
"We couldn't believe the support from the community. There were truckloads of stuff and gifts for my little girl," he said. "This community has been awesome ... they gave from the heart."
Following the fire, the family stayed at a relative's house in Amberg, Wis.
Groundbreaking for their new home occurred on Feb. 24-25 of this year.
The new home is one level, 2,500 square feet and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
The Hirtes said their new house is smaller than the original house, but with two adult children they didn't need as big of a house.
With the exception of a contractor hired to pour the foundation of the house and Big Cedar Builders of Powers helping to put up the log structure of the house, family and friends have helped build the new home.
Melissa Hirte's parents, Dale and Sharon Maahs of Vulcan, noted how the community helped the family rebuild.
"They had awesome friends that pitched in," said Sharon Maahs.
"Just a fantastic community," said Dale Maahs.
Although a cause of the fire was never determined, Carey Hirte said the fire department suspects it was electrical.
"There was nothing left to tell the cause of the fire," Carey Hirte said. "I wish we could have known to avoid the same situation."
It's been eight months since the fire, and six months of building a new home.
"Stay strong and keep your faith. People are good-hearted. It made my family stronger and appreciate life more," Melissa Hirte said of the fire. "You can always replace material things."
After losing a dog, two cats and a guinea pig in the fire, the family has opened their home to new pets.
So far, their oldest daughter has a new cat, Bella; their son has gotten a dog and named her Emma; and Mackenna got a new guinea pig, Hunter, on Christmas Day.
Lisa M. Hoffmann's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.