POLITICS

Manitoba family that lost daughter in dog mauling loses home to fire

04/13/2015 03:56 EDT | Updated 06/19/2015 01:59 EDT
ST. ANDREWS, Man. - A Manitoba couple whose seven-year-old daughter died when she was mauled by two dogs a year ago have now lost their home and all the memories it held of her.

Fire destroyed Ana and Tony Herntier's house just north of Winnipeg early Monday morning. Gracie Herntier-Clark lived there before she was attacked by two Alaskan malemutes at the home of family friends.

Two women managed to escape with minor injuries from a second-storey window, but the home was reduced to smoldering rubble.

Family friend Kerri McQuarrie said the couple have now lost everything they had to remember Gracie.

"They lost not only their home and all of their possessions but they lost everything they had of Gracie's," she said. "How do you go on from losing your child? And then now to lose everything — literally everything — I can't even imagine what they're feeling. My heart is just pouring out for them."

Gracie was the "biggest sweetheart" who was always dancing and laughing, McQuarrie remembered. Before the girl died, she organized a garage sale to raise money for the school music program. That tradition has continued but items collected for this year's sale were also lost in the fire, McQuarrie said.

"Everything they had in the garage was lost," she said.

McQuarrie set up a GoFundMe page hours after the fire, hoping to raise some money to "take some of the burden off of these amazing people." It's a small way to show support for a family that has already suffered unimaginable tragedy, she said.

"They don't even have toothbrushes," she said. "It's just something for them to know that people are here for them still — not only for Gracie — but we're here for them."

Selkirk RCMP said the family's home was engulfed by the time firefighters arrived. They say they are investigating, but the fire does not appear to be suspicious.

— By Chinta Puxley in Winnipeg