A family of seven have been left homeless two weeks before Christmas after their tree lights set fire to the living room.
The family had been watching festive films at their home in Beverley, Yorkshire, on Friday afternoon before heading upstairs to get the five kids bathed and ready for bed.
As they were going through their bedtime routine, the six-year-old daughter said she could see smoke coming up the stairs.
The dad, who did not want to be named, said he initially thought it might just be “kids being kids” – before the smoke alarm went off.
“I ran downstairs and there was like a mist filling the living room,” he said.
“You couldn’t see the flames first of all.”
It later transpired that there had been a fault in the Christmas tree lights which had set the branches ablaze.
As the tree began to burn, the house started to fill with thick smoke.
Within seconds, the smoke became denser and began rising through the floorboards and into the children’s bedrooms.
“Within a minute the stairs were black and my heart just dropped,” the dad said.
“I started screaming at my family, ‘The house is on fire, get out, get out.’ That was when I saw the tree was alight.”
Within seconds the family were stood outside the front of their home, many covered only by towels having been caught out in the middle of bathtime.
Suddenly the dad realised the family pets – two dogs and two kittens – had not made it out.
He and a neighbour raced back inside to save the animals.
“We got the dogs but couldn’t find the kittens anywhere,” he said.
“The smoke was too much. I was being sick, coughing everywhere, we had to get out.
“That’s when we turned round and the cats were just sat on the front doorstep meowing.”
In their incident log from Friday night, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service confirmed they had been called to reports of a Christmas tree on fire in the living room at 8.32pm on December 11.
They sent one hose reel and two sets of breathing apparatus to help deal with the blaze.
Officers have since confirmed the house is unlivable, and the family are due to be placed into emergency council accommodation on Monday.
“It just happened so fast,” the dad said.
“I’ve been in some scary situations, but that scared the life out of me. I was just stood watching our house burn in front of me.
“And now everything’s destroyed by the smoke.
“On Saturday we went back and I just looked at it and thought of everything we’ve built and paid for in this house, and now it’s gone. The kids’ toys, clothes, bedding, TVs, everything has gone.”
A GoFundMe crowdfunding page has since been set up by a friend of the family to try and help them rebuild their lives over the Christmas period.
And the dad says he is determined to give his kids the best possible Christmas, in spite of it all.
“I’m a fighter,” he said.
“I’ve got to be. I’ve got a family, I’ve got to be their rock. But it’s so hard to think about what could’ve happened.
“All I want now is for the kids to have the best Christmas possible in the situation we’re in.”