MADISONVILLE, La. - "He said, ‘Oh God, man. Your house is engulfed in flames.”
That’s the call Chris Rabenstiener's neighbor made Saturday afternoon. A flimsy shell is all that's left of the family's Madisonville home Tuesday.
“And we could see the plume of smoke coming across the Causeway, the whole way," Rabenstiener said.
Three pets and several chickens were killed in the fire, while two firefighters received minor injuries trying to put it out.
The fire department does not have a cause for the fire yet, but they do believe the fire began in the garage area. It was actually a four-car-garage with several pieces of farm equipment in it, but of course now, you can't identify any of it.
But before the smoke cleared to reveal all of the damage, help from the children's schools, Archbishop Hannan High and Lake Castle School, started pouring in.
"Both extremely generous," Rabenstiener said. "The families, the kids, really reached out to help us. The donations were just overwhelming to help us get restarted."
More good news followed when the family discovered priceless memories left untouched by the flames.
The Rabenstieners say they are fortunate to have experienced the real meaning of community through this tragedy, including the firefighters who risked their lives to save the home.
"I have just the greatest gratitude for all the help we've gotten from everyone," said Rabenstiener.
Tuesday, their plans to move on were in motion.
"We've gotta find a place to live first and try to get some sense of normalcy in our lives back," he said. "And from there we're going to try to rebuild."
But the family knows they won't have to do it alone.
Relatives have set up a donation account for the family at any Chase Bank. If you’d like to contribute, the account number is 521137013.