Family marks anniversary of devastating house fire by giving back

After losing their home to a fire in July 2020, a family in Ramsey marked the first anniversary of that day by doing something to make a difference for other families displaced by fires.

Brittany and Austin Kucheska can still remember the day of the fire vividly.

"Opening the garage door, it was just a normal day [and I] felt a rush of heat and we realized we had a fire in the garage," Austin remembered. "We ran out with just the clothes on our back. I didn’t even have shoes. It was just a very humbling experience."

It only took 10 minutes for the couple’s entire home to be engulfed by the fire.

"It was so hot. It would be like opening an oven that’s on broil with water in there," Austin said. "I felt that rush of heat and it actually singed some of my beard hairs off."

The fire claimed nearly everything the family owned, but miraculously the couple and their 1-year-old and 4-year-old daughters made it out safely.

"Something from up above was watching over us in many ways that day," Brittany said.

"It was an awful experience that could’ve been a lot worse," Austin added.

That day, the Kucheska’s neighborhood had turned into a network of support.

"By the time we left that night we had diapers, we had clothes, we had toiletries," Austin said.

Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of the fire, and with the neighborhood behind them, the Kucheskas decided to take the day back.

"Just to not let that day negatively impact us anymore," Brittany explained. "We’re going to honor the day from now on and see how we can help others."

They held a fundraiser, selling quilts, woodworking projects, baked goods and lemonade.

"To not forget what happened, but to make lemonade out of lemons, essentially," Brittany said.

The Kucheska’s plan to use the money they raised, nearly $4,000, to buy grocery store gift cards for families displaced by fires. They’ve asked anyone else who would like to contribute to donate to the fundraiser.