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October 23 09:21 AM
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Family counts blessings after fire destroys home



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May 05, 2010
GOODLAND TWP. — Though their house has been reduced to a pile of charred rubble, the Galbraiths are counting their blessings.

The Antler Trail residence had been home to Patricia and Robert and their kids Hunter, 12, Noah, 10, and Peyton, 8 for the past five-and-a-half years. Filled with memories and memorabilia, it was a place they loved.

Fate, however, dealt the family an unexpected blow when a faulty electrical receptacle prompted sparks which quickly turned into flames that ripped through the home last Wednesday evening, April 28.

As devastating as the loss is, Patricia says they're left feeling grateful for a number of things.

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Peyton, Hunter and Noah Galbraith surround their parents Patricia and Robert Galbraith for family photo. The family lost their home to a fire last week, but plans to rebuild in the same location.

First, that her family is safe and okay. Hunter was home when the fire started. He smelled smoke, spotted the source and high-tailed it out of the house to the family's pre-designated meeting spot at the mailbox to call 911.

"Our family is intact and that's the most important," she says. "I'm proud of Hunter. This shows how important it is to work with your family and make sure there's an escape route and meeting place. Hunter did exactly what he was taught to do. Practicing with our family is definitely one of the best things we've ever done."

Patricia is also grateful for the support they've received from the moment the flames appeared.

"The firefighters that came from different stations to help, the family, friends and people from the community who stopped by, people we don't even know has been so overwhelming," Patricia says. "This has been a first-hand experience of how great this community out there is."

On Thursday, the Galbraiths went back to the home to sift through what was left. Patricia says she's grateful for some things she came across, and is making peace with letting the rest go.

"There were some clothes, a few pictures and some sports medals, wrestling medals and trophies the kids earned," she says. "But things are just things and can be replaced, family can't be, so I feel so grateful we're all okay."

Robert and Noah were only a mile away when they saw smoke blowing across the sky. Patricia learned the house was burning when her cell phone started ringing. She was in Imlay City picking up some food for her daughter, who was practicing at Extreme Cheer & Dance Studio.

"My neighbor Andrea Dawson called, and another neighbor called to say the kids were okay but the house was on fire," Patricia recalls. "I was speechless."

Almost a week later, the reality is still sinking in. They are now living in a hotel.

"Thursday was one of the harder days," Patricia says. "We just want to try to get back to somewhat of a normal life."

Part of that normalcy includes Hunter, Noah and Peyton returning to Imlay City schools—something they wanted to do by Friday.

The Galbraiths have insurance and plan to rebuild on the property and resume life in a community they love.

"It's a reminder that what happened to us can happen to anybody," Patricia says. "We want to stay and rebuild. After the way everyone has been, we've definitely been fortunate to be part of the Imlay City community. The support has been just amazing."

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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