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Double tragedy for Manitoba family: house burned, girl mauled by dogs

04/13/2015 09:40 EDT | Updated 06/19/2015 02:59 EDT
A Manitoba family is facing another catastrophe after their home burned to the ground Monday.

The two-storey house, north of Winnipeg in the Rural Municipality of St. Andrews belongs to the family of Gracie Herntier, a seven-year-old girl who died after being mauled by two dogs last year.

Gracie was at the home of family friends when she was attacked in March 2014. She was rushed to the Children's Hospital in Winnipeg where she was pronounced dead.

Early Monday, a fire broke out at the two-storey house where Gracie had lived. It was quickly engulfed in flames, forcing two women onto the roof.

It happened at about 1 a.m. at the home on Schreyer Crescent, about 10 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

Fire chief Ken Peacock called it the hottest fire he's ever been to, and the most dramatic rescue he's ever had to do in more than 20 years of fire fighting.

When he and the rest of the crew arrived, the fire was so hot he could feel it hundreds of meters away. One woman had managed to get to the ground on her own but one was still trapped on top.

Peacock said a teenage boy from a neighbouring home came over and helped him coax the woman to jump into their arms.

The woman hurt her leg but is otherwise OK. Both women, aged 54 and 61, were taken to hospital as a precaution to be checked over.

The house is destroyed and the cause is under investigation, although RCMP say it does not appear to be suspicious.

Before she died, Gracie had held a garage sale to raise funds for the music program at her school.

In her honour, her family and friends decided to make the event an annual one. All the items they were collecting for this year's event were being stored in the home.

"Houses can be rebuilt and everything like that, but they had memories that are in that house that they'll never be able to hold again — Gracie's things, their family photos. It just, it kills your heart to think what they must be going through," said Kerri McQuarrie, a family friend who set up a GoFundMe page to help the family out.

"It just breaks my heart that not only have they lost their home, and all of their memories, but now they've also lost everything that people have donated."

On her GoFundMe page, McQuarrie pleads: "Let's all come together and take some of the burden off of these amazing people. Please help."

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