North shore family of eight welcomes Thanksgiving after fire burns home, cars and pets

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After losing everything in a house fire, a Madisonville family says they`re more thankful than ever this holiday season.

“I`ve never felt more loved than I do right now,” says Emma Rabensteiner, reflecting on the past couple weeks. “My school has been so helpful and the rest of the community.”

The family of eight includes Chris Sr., Rhonda, Erik, Billy, Emma, Chris Jr., Frederick and Brittany who were not at home when the house fire broke out, but watched it burn.

“The north face of the house was completely engulfed,” says Chris Sr.

“Two firemen were hurt in the process of fighting the fire. So they pulled everyone out,” recalls Rhonda, who says firefighters came back three separate times to extinguish flames.

Chris Sr. says the fire took everything. Clothes, cars plus the family cat and puppy, “Investigators know that it started in the garage but they don’t know the source of ignition yet.”

But with Thanksgiving almost here, the Rabensteiner’s say good fortune and an outpouring of support makes them most grateful they still have each other.

“We had the most important thing which is our family,” says Rhonda

“Complete strangers reached out to help us,” Says Chris Sr.

“Our dog Coco made it out,” says Billy. “The firemen, when they got there, they banged down the door, and Coco was right there and she ran out.”

Another stroke of luck, Chris Sr. was handed the blueprints from the original contractor, “This was a godsend. This is the house plans of the house that burned.”

They plan to rebuild the house.

Suddenly an uncertain future becomes more clear.

“We’re very grateful for all of the help that we received,” says Rhonda. “There’s no way that we could have made it on our own.”

Chris Sr. says seeing hurricanes in the Philippines and tornadoes in Illinois puts things in perspective, “What happened to us kind of pales in comparison so we need to keep those people in our prayers.”

Six chickens and a guinea pig named Rosie also perished in the flames.

The cause of the fire which started in the garage remains unknown.

Other family says the Rabensteiner’s are still in need of assistance.

To learn more email Frederick Wilson  at

Donate at any Chase Bank-  Account Number #  521137013

Or an online donation at Paypal account link: Rabensteiner Recovery Fund (click below)



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