Home burns on Christmas while Waseca newlyweds honeymoon in Australia

A Rice County couple will return from their honeymoon without a home and with a big mess to clean up.

Their Waseca home burned down on Christmas Day, just as they got to Australia. The house is a total loss. From their lawn, you can see right into the bedrooms, the kitchen, and even the basement. But the owners haven’t seen it yet because they’re half a world away trying to enjoy their honeymoon.

As flames spread through their home on Christmas morning, Spencer and Jess Velzke were just about to go to bed 9,000 miles away in Sydney, Australia.

"Got the phone call, missed it originally and ended up listening to the voicemail," said Spencer Velzke. "And the sheriff from Rice County said 'Give me a call back. There’s been an emergency.'"

Within a couple of hours, just about everything the newlyweds owned burned to a crisp – their bed, their appliances, and educational materials they used as she pursues a doctorate in nursing and he gets a master's in engineering.

Their dogs were staying with family members, so they’re alright, but the Velzkes’ packed for a warm Southern Hemisphere vacation, so even their cold-weather clothes are gone.

"We've had some amazing people supporting us and giving us clothes and cards and bibs so that we can return home and start demolition of our house," said Jess Velzke.

The couple has insurance and family members they can lean on, but friends started a GoFundMe page to help them get new winter clothes and pay deductibles.

But returning home from a joyous occasion to a terrible loss is going to be strange.

"We'll definitely be super hit by that when we get home," Spencer Velzke said. "I think we haven't seen the full brunt of it yet. It's a good way to distance ourselves a little bit, but once we see that in person at home, we're going to be quite devastated."

They're grateful for help from friends and family and for firefighters from Morristown and Waseca who spent their Christmas morning trying to save their home.

They believe a few keepsakes survived, even if they're charred.

The Minnesota Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire, but so far they don’t have any answers.