The morning of Monday, July 7th, seemed like every other morning on South Jackson Avenue in Graettinger, Iowa.
But, as a woman dropped her child off at the daycare next door to her sister's home, she noticed something wrong. Smoke was pouring out of the door of her sister, Stephanie Gaston's, home.
Gaston ran out of the burning home yelling for help. Stephanie's two little boys, 5-year-old Gavin Hasbrouck, and 7-year-old Collin Reed, were still inside. "The fire smoldered inside the home for quite some time," said Lynn Schultes, Palo Alto County Sheriff. "People had been driving by the house that morning. Unbeknownst to them, the fire was going on in the house. The house contained all that smoke."
After Stephanie ran out of the home the first time, witnesses say she and others on the street tried to get back in to save Gavin and Collin. The fire was too intense. "The smoke and the heat were so intense, nobody was able to enter the home until fire department personnel arrived," said Sheriff Schultes.
The firemen finally found the boys and began live-saving measures as they were transported to the Palo Alto County Hospital. Sadly, both Gavin and Collin were pronounced dead later that morning in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Gaston suffered serious injuries from her rescue attempts. "She is currently in the burn center in Iowa City," said Sheriff Schultes. "She advised that she has third-degree burns on her hands, on her back, and then some burns on her face as well."
Authorities have spoken to Gaston, and she hopes others can learn something from the tragedy. "Stephanie, and the grandmother as well, want to use this as an educational situation," Sheriff Schultes said. "They want people to look at their own homes, determine if they have smoke detectors or not." Authorities say Gaston's home was not equipped with working smoke detectors at the time of the fire.
There is a memorial fund that's been set up for Gavin and Collin. If you'd like to donate, Bank Plus in Graettinger is taking the donations for anything the family may need right now. You can send them your donations to the "Gavin and Collin Memorial Account," P.O. Box 549, Graettinger, Iowa, 51342.
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