MAYO, Fla. (WTXL) - A fire Saturday night destroyed the home of a family in Lafayette County just two weeks before they were planning to celebrate Christmas with loved ones.
"It didn't take but about 10 minutes, and it was gone," said Preston Pittman, the owner of the home lost to the fire.
A small amount of time left a big burden on the Pittman family. Saturday night, a fire gutted their home in Mayo.
"You know, 20-something years of raising kids in that house, and everything's gone," said Preston.
It's a hard reality for Marshall and Brian Pittman, who grew up in this house, as they reflect on their memories here.
"Running through the house, playing hide-and-go-seek, getting beat up by my brothers," said Marshall. "It's everything, sir."
"It's unbelievable," Brian said. "I was just here four hours before it happened, and you don't think nothing like this can happen -- and it does."
The fire department says it all started when a fire escaped a portion of this chimney, went over the back walls of this bedroom and quickly took over the entire house. Officials say the family was lucky to make it out alive.
"When I went in and smelled something plastic, I opened the bedroom door and flames rushed out, you know, hit the ceiling," said Preston.
Preston Pittman and his wife Joyce could only grab their two family dogs and escape the fire. A family friend was able to put them in a cabin for a few days.
Pictures show the house's chimney standing amid the rubble.
"After that, we don't know right now," said Preston. "I had insurance, but it don't cover everything."
Community members have offered what they can to help the Pittmans. The Red Cross has also stepped in and the family says it's grateful for the support.
"Makes you feel really, really good that you got a lot of people in your corner when something like this -- something tragic happens," said Brian.
Neighbors have been collecting money and donations to help the Pittman family. If you'd like to help, go to the family's GoFundMe page.
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