House fire leaves family of 12 homeless

      House fire leaves family of 12 homeless

      Saturday's rain put out any embers that were left smoldering after a morning fire left a Lake City family of 12 homeless.

      They woke up to the flames and were forced to flee, leaving everything behind, everything except what matters most.

      Pieces of burnt insulation hang s where there are curtains in the den, which used to hold so many memories for the Lake City family of 12.

      But, everything changed around 7 this morning, when a 6-year-old woke up to flames.

      "She came to me and said, 'Auntie, a fire in the room,' and I said, 'What?!' and she said, 'A fire in the room,' Cheryl Chandler told NewsChannel 15.

      So she ran to all the rooms in the house, making sure her family members got out.

      Just as they reached the front yard, she said, the flames engulfed the house.

      "I just saw that and just started crying," Chandler said.

      Her mom and sister also live there but were out getting breakfast at the time.

      "My sis ter called and said the house is burning, at first I thought she was playing, but then I saw all the fire trucks and police and them riding down the road," Victoria Chandler said.

      Firefighters said an electrical heater in a bedroom caused the flames.

      Family members said there were clothes on top of the heater, and that's what Lake City Fire Chief Tony Singletary warns people to avoid.

      "Keep them away from linen, curtains, close to couches, and in a bedroom, if you have a small bedroom, that's not good to have a heater in a small area," Chief Singletary said.

      And he said, always monitor electrical or space heaters and lit fireplaces, never leaving them on when you're gone or sleeping.

      The Chandlers won't make that mistake twice, and said they were blessed to get out alive.

      "That's the most important thing, that everybody ended up alright," said Cheryl Chandler.

      They're not sure what their next move is, but they know they'll be together.

      The Pee Dee Chapter of the American Red Cross is putting the family in a hotel for the next three nights, and gave them money for food and clothes.