A family of seven that escaped a house fire in North Omaha just days before Christmas is in need of a new home.
Last Wednesday, firefighters were called to 4342 Erskine St. for a two-story house fire. Five adults and four children managed to get out safely.
Latoyce Wesley says she and her niece had just gotten home from the grocery store a little before 2:00 a.m. They were in the kitchen eating a snack when they smelled smoke. They searched the downstairs for signs of a fire but didn't find anything.
Wesley headed upstairs to where her daughter and grandchildren slept to ensure everything was okay, but was alarmed to find a huge cloud of dark smoke near the stairwell.
"As I'm about to run upstairs, I see smoke but it's so thick to where I couldn't go up there because it was hard to breathe," says Wesley.
Wesley's brother came inside and touched one of the upstairs bedroom walls. That's when he realized the house was burning through the walls.
”He started screaming that the walls were hot. He started screaming to the kids to get out of the house and for me to get out of the house because the fire was in the walls."
The family managed to evacuate in their pajamas and waited outside in the cold for firefighters to arrive.
”I’m just glad that I didn’t fall asleep. Because if I would’ve fell asleep, I don’t think my two girls and my granddaughter would’ve made it through that," says Wesley.
Wesley's daughter, Unique says she was sound asleep when the fire started. She says had she heard her uncle yelling, she might not have survived.
"I have no idea how I was sleeping through it all. I just woke up and my room was filled with big clouds of black smoke," says Unique.
The family was put up in a hotel by the Red Cross but are eager to get a new place.
"We just need a deposit," says Wesley. "Something to get us going. That's it. Everything else I can work for. You know I got everything else - my family. I'm just glad my kids and my grandkids are okay."
"You know at least we get to spend out Christmas with our family and we didn't have to say we lost somebody in that fire. We have each other. That's all that matters," says Unique.
The family started a GoFundMe account to raise funds to replenish everything they lost in the fire. You can donate at this link.