It's one of the worst things you can imagine happening on Christmas, but one Birmingham family was left out in the cold Tuesday after escaping a house fire on Kennesaw, in Birmingham's Poppleton Park neighborhood.
The house fire at 685 Kennesaw began a little before 1 p.m. Tuesday, Birmingham Fire Department Capt. Bill Wallace. The fire began, he said, in the garage and later engulfed the rear of the two-story colonial home in flames.
"Unfortunately, (the fire) was well involved by the time we got there," Wallace said, noting firefighters from Birmingham and Bloomfield Township arrived a little less than three minutes after receiving the call.
Wallace said both the family's cars, which were in the garage at the time, were destroyed in the flames, as was the rear addition attached the garage. Wallace said he believes the room to be a combination living and dining area. The rest of the house also suffered smoke damage, he said.
According to Wallace, the young couple living in the house and their toddler all made it out safely before firefighters arrived. To his knowledge, Wallace said there were no animals in the home.
"It's a bad day to have a fire any time," Wallace said. "But the good thing is the family was safe."
At this point, Wallace said the cause of the fire is still being investigated, though he noted the fire does not seem suspicious at this time.
According to neighbors who took a break from their Christmas celebrations to watch, homes nearby had to be evacuated during the blaze. Wallace said upon arriving, their first priority was to protect the neighboring homes.
"Some of them were already starting to suffer damage from the heat," he said. "Our guys did a real good job of keeping that fire where it was."
But what about Christmas? Wallace said he's not sure at this time if or where the family was celebrating Christmas, and whether presents were engulfed in the flames. After keeping warm with neighbors, the family later went to stay with relatives.
Melih Oztalay, who lives on Rivenoak, said he first heard loud noises coming from Kennesaw.
"It could easily have been the cars exploding," he said, adding, "Of course, the sentiment across all the onlookers was, 'How horrible on Christmas day.'"
On the neighborhood's Facebook page Wednesday, Poppleton Park, neighbors were already discussing ways to give back to the family and the firefighters who helped put out the blaze.
One neighbor said she was taking dinner to the firefighters Wednesday to thank them for saving her home. She noted the family was back in the home on Wednesday afternoon.
"Their son Will is 2," Kathy O'Keefe wrote. "I'm sure what ever Santa brought him is gone and they are all in need of clothes. They are thankful they got out alive."