LA CROSSE, WI (WKBT) -

Two families are still dealing with the loss of a home today, after a farmhouse outside Houston, Minnesota burnt to the ground this weekend.

Houston, Hokah and Ridgeway fire departments responded to the fire Saturday evening, but the home was eventually lost that night. The farmhouse was more than 100 years old, dating back to the Civil War era.

The owners of the home weren't living in it - but the renter staying there lost nearly all his belongings in the fire. However, firefighters were able to save one important piece of memorabilia for the family.

Homeowner Kirby Rahn isn't sure what type of tree it is, or when exactly they planted it outside the home - but he and his wife Nancy were desperate to keep it from burning down with the farmhouse. It was a wedding gift from Nancy's mother.

"After we realized the house couldn't be saved, obviously this is our little piece of history," said homeowner Kirby Rahn. "We've been married 25 years now this past November."

It's a frail little tree, easily blown about in the winter wind. But on this piece of land, it's all Kirby and Nancy have left. They've been renting out the century-old house for years and live in a farmhouse just down the road.


"Built in the late 1870s, been in the family since then," Rahn said. "I think my mother took it the hardest, she was raised here and spent her whole life here."

Firefighters say the house is a total loss, and with it, a century of family tradition - but this one family heirloom has stayed intact to stand the test of time.

The renter of the home has moved back in with family after the fire, and the community's driving several donation efforts for him.

If you're looking to get involved, you can donate here in La Crosse at D and R Automotive, or Home Federal in La Crescent. Looney Valley Church, located outside Houston, is also collecting donations. You can find out how you can help with donations by calling 608-797-4662.