by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter
It was a day like any other at the Isaacson’s home in Otsego. Ryan was at work, Brenda was working at home in the office in the basement of their house. The couple’s three children, 5-year-old twins Mason and Megan and 3-year-old Landon, were at day care.
The family was dog-sitting and the dog started acting strangely, according to Brenda Isaacson. She heard a thump upstairs and thought maybe her husband was home early, which happened sometimes on Fridays. But the dog wouldn’t quit whining and acting upset. She ventured out of her office, hoping her husband was home and worrying that the dog’s pleas meant there was an intruder in the house. She headed upstairs and peeked into the garage.
That’s when she saw that her garage was completely engulfed in flames.
Meanwhile, Elk River Assistant Fire Chief Cliff Anderson said a neighbor snowblowing his driveway smelled something in the air and went to investigate. He also discovered the fire and banged on the Isaacson’s door to alert them.
The fire at 8128 Padgett Ave. was reported at 9:34 a.m. Friday, April 19. When firefighters arrived at 9:41 a.m., Anderson said the garage was fully engulfed and the fire was starting to spread into the roof and attic. Elk River called for mutual aid from fire departments in Rogers and Albertville, and they both responded to the scene. Anderson said they fought the blaze for about three hours.
The fire is believed to have originated from a vehicle, though the insurance company investigation is still underway. The Isaacsons learned on Tuesday that, because of the damage, the house would be a complete teardown.
The family of five has been living in a hotel in Elk River ever since.
“We finally moved to a suite on Tuesday,” BrendaIsaacson said. “But it’s still just one bed and a pull-out sofa.”
The transition has been hardest on Landon, who has special needs.
“He’s a very routined boy, and this is out of the ordinary, so it’s been a hard change on him,” Brenda Isaacson explained.
After getting barraged by questions from their 5-year-old twins, the Isaacsons thought it was best to let them see the remains of the house.
They mostly understood, according to Brenda Isaacson, though they’ve been feeling like they’re on vacation. That is, until one afternoon in the hotel pool.
“We were playing in the pool and Mason wasn’t listening,” Brenda Isaacson recalled. “And I told him if he didn’t listen, we were going home. He said, ‘We don’t have a home, Mom, it’s burnt.’”
The family is planning to rebuild their home. They like their neighborhood and community and are eager to return to it. They had originally built their home in 2002. In the meantime, they are trying to find a three-bedroom house to rent but are having a hard time finding a rental that will grant them only a six-month lease.
They are hopeful for the future and look forward to regaining a sense of normalcy for their young family. Brenda Isaacson is hoping for a home even better than the one they had.
She recalled, “I’ve been nagging my husband for about two years now that we need an expansion. He was joking as the firemen were putting out the fire, ‘Well, this is a good way to get your expansion, I guess.’”
While firemen were battling the blaze at their home, they were able to enter the home and retrieve some irreplaceable items, like photo albums and photos hanging on the walls.
After the fire was put out, the family grabbed as much clothing as they could and spent an entire day washing everything at a Laundromat.
Though they’re regaining a sense of normalcy, because she worked from home, Brenda Isaacson is not able to work, which has taken a significant toll on the family’s income.
The family is fortunate enough to have plentiful clothing and toys but is in need of donations of gift cards and money. Donations can be mailed to their home address, because mail is being held at the post office for them, at 8128 Padgett Ave. NE, Otsego, MN. (Editor’s note: Associate Editor Joni Astrup contributed to this report.)