GRAETTINGER A house fire just after sunrise Monday claimed the lives of two young boys in Graettinger. According to Palo Alto County Sheriff Lynn Schultes, five-year old Gavin Hasbrouck and his brother, seven-year ,old Collin Reed were pronounced dead at the Palo Alto County Hospital after they were carried from their smoke-filled two-story home by firefighters.
The fire was first reported to the Palo Alto County Sheriff's Office at 6:33 a.m. Monday, July 7. The Graettinger Fire Department and Graettinger Ambulance Service were immediately paged and responded quickly to the scene at 204 South Jackson Avenue, having been advised in the initial call that two boys were trapped in the residence.
Firefighters arriving at the scene found the female resident of the home, 27-year old Stephanie Gaston, in the back yard of the residence, which had heavy smoke billowing out of the windows, with flames visible through the windows. Gaston had been able to escape the house, but was unable to bring her children to safety.
TRAGIC?AFTERMATH - Graettinger firefighters gather outside the home at 204 South Jackson Avenue after extinguishing a fire that claimed the lives of two young brothers Monday morning, July 7. Five-year old Collin Hasbrouck and his seven-year old brother Gavin Reed were pronounced dead at the Palo Alto County Hospital after being rescued from the home. A preliminary investigation by authorities indicated the fire, which was reported at 6:33 a.m., started in the living room of the dwelling. -- Dan Voigt photo
The firefighters immediately entered the smoke-filled structure and began searching for the two boys. Collin was carried out of the back door of the house in the arms of a firefighter about 10 minutes after the initial alarm, and Gavin was carried out the front door of the home by a second firefighter just a few minutes later. Emergency medical personnel immediately began lifesaving measures on the two boys and they were immediately transported along with their mother to the Palo Alto County Hospital in Emmetsburg.
Stephanie Gaston was later transferred to the University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City for treatment of her injuries. No information was available on her condition. Gavin Hasbrouck and Collin Reed were later pronounced dead at the Palo Alto County Hospital.
The Iowa State Fire Marshal was called to investigate the cause of the blaze as firefighters stood by the scene through the morning and into the afternoon while the investigation was conducted. Preliminary results of the investigation indicate the fire started in the living room of the structure, which sustained extensive fire and smoke damage. Authorities indicated no smoke detectors were present in the home at the time of blaze. The investigation into the blaze is continuing.
The sense of shock and loss descended on the northern Palo Alto County community quickly after the deaths were announced.
Teresa Alesch, High School Principal at the Graettinger-Terril Community Schools, issued a statement late Monday afternoon. "It is with profound sadness that we share with you news of the death of two young students in our school community, Collin Reed and Gavin Hasbrouck. We are pulling together resources and will be providing services to help family, friends, staff, students, and community as we make our way through this difficult time. There is little we can say or do to remove the sting of pain we all feel. Our thoughts and prayers are centered upon Stephanie and her health as well as family and anyone mourning the loss of our young friends."
Tuesday, officials of Graettinger-Terril Community Schools announced they would offer two counseling meetings for family, friends, students, staff, parents and community members to help deal with the incident, one on Tuesday evening and one Wednesday morning. In addition, the district's counselors and other community resources will be available to provide support and resources for those that need help dealing with children and those that need individual assistance. The district will provide ongoing support as needed or requested, now and in the future.
Anyone needing more information on counseling, questions or concerns, is urged to contact the school at (712) 859-3286.