POSTED: Friday, December 24, 2010 - 7:18pm
UPDATED: Saturday, December 25, 2010 - 10:36pm
TYLER - Friday morning, the Avila family lit a fire to keep warm while preparing for a big Christmas Eve dinner at their home.
When Maria Avila came back from buying some last-minute groceries, things had changed.
"When I came back, I saw ambulance and firefighters. I couldn't find one of my kids, so I was thinking the - you know, the worst," Avila said.
A fire in the chimney had spread to the rest of the house, destroying nearly everything. Including Christmas presents for Avila's two boys.
But thanks to her family and friends, she quickly realized everyone was okay, including her missing son.
"He came out of my neighbor's house and I was so glad. I just hugged him so hard and thanked God for him," Avila said.
Captain Matt York with the Dixie Fire Department says East Texans should be careful this holiday season when trying to keep warm.
"Make sure that you get your chimney swept out. Do everything you can to prevent having fires in your chimney. Check all your space heaters, make sure you have all the correct clearance around your space heaters - it doesn't take much to get one going...once you get a house fire it's...you could lose everything."
Even though her home was destroyed, Avila is just glad her family is ok.
"There'll be other times we can all celebrate together...because we're alive," Avila said.
Since it's gotten colder, many East Texans will be using their fireplaces this holiday season...Click here to link to some safety tips for using your fireplace.