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Brainerd family loses dogs, possessions in house fire

Peder and Amber Thusholt, nor their three children, were home when the fire broke out.

Screenshot of the Thusholt family's GoFundMe page.
The Thusholt family — Peder, Amber, Emma, Soren and Josiah — lost their two dogs and most of their possessions in a fire at their north Brainerd home Thursday, June 23, 2022. A GoFundMe page is raising money for the family.
Screenshot by Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — A Brainerd family is left in the lurch after a house fire killed their two dogs and destroyed most of their possessions Thursday, June 23.

Peder and Amber Thusholt, along with their three children, said they are grateful for the community support and their family’s safety while mourning their pets and the items they lost when their house on the 400 block of North Eighth Street caught fire just before 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

The night before the fire, Peder said he felt compelled to pray to God to watch over his family, so he did. The next morning, he felt blessed when his two older children were getting along better than usual. He was at a doctor’s appointment later that day, while the two oldest kids were home and Amber was picking up the youngest child from preschool. Thirteen-year-old Emma decided to go for a walk for no particular reason, so she took her brother on a walk to a nearby gas station. When they got home, the house was on fire, and Amber was pulling into the driveway.

“I believe God saved my family,” Peder said by phone Friday, June 24.

While the house is still standing and appears to be structurally sound, Brainerd Fire Chief Tim Holmes reported fire damage to the kitchen and living room and heat and smoke damage throughout the house, making it unlivable for the time being. Firefighters arrived on scene to heavy black smoke coming out of the front door. Holmes said crews extinguished the blaze quickly but were on scene for about four hours, assisting the fire marshal, wrapping up just as storms brought rain and hail to the area.

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The Thusholts struggled to find a place to stay Friday, as hotels in the area were booked up for the Lakes Jam music festival at Brainerd International Raceway.

The family was headed out of town Friday, on their way to Amber’s parents’ house to stay there for awhile and to bury their beloved dogs, 2-year-old black Labrador Lizzy and 1-year-old chocolate Labrador Chloe.

A home on North Eighth Street fire damaged.
The north Brainerd home of Peder and Amber Thusholt was damaged in a fire Thursday, June 23, 2022.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“We are all trying to deal with it the best we can,” Peder said.

The Thusholts have lived in their house since October 2020 and have fire insurance but do not know when they will be able to rebuild.

Both Peder and Amber Thusholt work at Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, and Peder is a graduate from the program, which provides rehabilitation for those struggling with addiction. He said his kids have had a hard life and been in some tough spots, but right now he and his wife are grateful and overwhelmed by the support from family members and friends who have donated clothes and other necessities and started a GoFundMe page to raise money.

They’re also thanking God for watching over their family.

“I just really feel like we’re supposed to share this testimony,” Peder said.

The GoFundMe for the Thusholts had raised more than $5,000 as of Friday afternoon. Donations can be made at bit.ly/3xSJc3X .

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The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Minnesota State Fire Marshal.

The Brainerd Police Department and North Memorial Health Ambulance assisted at the scene, while crews from Brainerd Public Utilities and CenterPoint Energy disconnected the power and gas.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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