Screams of panic rang out as an inferno raged inside an Anaheim home. The large family that lived there say they are lucky to have gotten out alive, but now have nothing.
The fire started in the living room around 3 a.m Sunday and quickly spread.
Maria Rubio, a mother of seven, said her first instinct was to get her kids out safely.
Her 8-year-old son, Gabriel, was the first person to sound the alarm, even before the smoke detectors went off.
“If I never woke up, we’d all be dead,” the third-grader told KTLA. “I saw behind me, and there was fire. I ran into my mom and dad’s room and I told my dad first and my mom just woke up.”
The family of nine all made it out alive, but they are still dealing with the trauma of losing all of their belongings.
“Everybody says material stuff, they’re not important, but at the end, only we know what it costs to lose all our stuff” Maria said, holding back a tear as she held her child.
“Our clothes — everything — shoes, clothes, everything is gone,” said David Rubio, the couple’s 17-year-old son.
Sadly, the family’s pets all died in the blaze. More than a dozen birds — conures, cockatoos and canaries — all gone. Their cages still stand charred from the fire.
Gabriel Rubio, the 8-year-old who saved his family, said the birds were already dead when they went to look for them.
Their landlord did not have home insurance and the Rubio family is trying to find emergency housing closer to the kids’ schools.
The family is split up, some staying in Perris with Maria’s mom, others staying in Moreno Valley with her sister.
The kids are missing school right now, she said.
But despite having their personal belongings gutted and their lives hurled toward uncertainty, they are counting their blessings.
Andres Rubio, the family’s 12-year-old son, put it best:
“It was a miracle for us, because they say God woke up my brother. God woke up my brother to make all of us get out safely.”
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation and the family is in contact with the Red Cross and the city of Anaheim.
The family has a GoFundMe account to help them get back on their feet. Anyone with the ability and interest to donate can do so here.