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'I don't want this to be real': Man whose family was killed in Ashland house fire shares message

Duane Chowning's wife and two teenagers died in the blaze.

The Ashland community is rallying to support a father whose family was killed in a house fire earlier this week.

Duane Chowning, an Army veteran, had stepped out of the house on July 5 to buy an air conditioner, according to a GoFundMe started for him. While he was gone, the home started on fire.

"He returned to his house to find the fire department there actively fighting the fire and was told that his wife and 2 daughters were deceased," the GoFundMe says.

Killed in the fire were his wife, 36-year-old Jordan Chowning, his daughter Alyssa Chowning, 14, and Jordan Chowning's niece Michelle Hathaway, 17, according to police.

As of mid-day Thursday, the fundraiser had brought in more than $13,000.

In a tearful thank you posted to the GoFundMe, Duane Chowning thanked those who have donated "for the assistance you have given us."

"My family was everything," he said. "Jordan was my rock and my angel. She saved me from a life of pain. Alyssa was my little girl, my little princess. ... And Michelle was my ward."

He later continued: "I just want to wake up. I don't want this to be real. If any of you out there were friends with one of these beautiful women, please keep your pictures safe. Please keep the memories of them alive. They are so amazing."

Duane Chowning said viewing and service are to come.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, with the Ashland fire and police departments, as well as the Wisconsin Department of Justice State Fire Marshall, investigating the blaze, FOX 21 says.

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