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Belle Plaine Fire Destroys Chickens That Helped Special Needs Child

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A Belle Plaine family is struggling to salvage the holiday season after a barn fire killed two dozen chickens and two roosters that were used as therapy for their special needs child.

Rosie Lemke fought back tears as she walked through what is left of the barn on her property Tuesday afternoon. On Saturday, the three-alarm fire destroyed the toys, yard equipment and Christmas decorations they stored inside.

Worse yet, the chickens that were killed were used to help their 9-year-old son, Collin, deal with ADHD and other issues.

"Our chickens were there, which are a part of our family," Rosie said. "We were told that a child with special needs can benefit from raising an animal and being on a farm. We thought, 'what's more perfect than chickens?'"

Now, Rosie says her son is having a hard time coping with the loss of his chickens.

"I don't know how we will get though all of it," Rosie said. "We have the memories. We just don't have the things that made those memories."

The family managed to make ornaments for the family Christmas tree. Now, mom's wish for her kids: To forget the fire that took what they cherished most, and think about how they've been blessed.

"All of us are here we have all of our family members are here because it could have been a lot worse," Rosie said.

For now, Rosie and her husband have no idea how they will have Christmas or replace Collin's chickens.

"He has his moments. He's upset about it because he asks if he can get more," Rosie said.

The Lemke's are thankful for the fire departments that responded to the fire. The family says they were there fast and were responsible for making sure the fire did not spread to the house.

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