There's a saying that it's the little things that make a house a home. But one Merrill couple lost all those things when their house caught on fire early Wednesday morning.
Gloria and David Lemke have lived in Merrill for 30 years. Firefighters say it took minutes for the flames to devour the Lemke's home.
"We just got back from Europe," said Shirley Ewan, with tears in her eyes.
Ewan is a long-time friend of Dave and Gloria Lemke.
"She got a cuckoo clock that she wanted all her life. She had it hanging on the wall, and she lost that too," Ewan said.
Ewan says it's heartbreaking to see this happen to such a kind couple.
"They were there for me when I lost my husband," Ewan remembered. "I just grew a lot closer to them over the years. And they're just very, very special people."
Gloria Lemke was in the house when it caught on fire, along with her daughter Dana and grandson Tyler. All three were treated for smoke inhalation at the hospital and have been released.
Firefighters say the Lemke's home is a total loss. Their friends have started collecting for a fund on their behalf. Donations can be sent to the:
Fire Fund for Dave and Gloria Lemke
Park City Credit Union
300 E. Second Street
P.O. Box 408
Merrill, WI 54452-0408