CANTONMENT, Fla. (WALA) - Authorities said a fire consumed a house early Saturday morning, leaving a woman and her two children homeless.
Fire officials responded to the scene around 9 a.m. on March 9 to find a brick home on Mate Circle in Pensacola with flames shooting through the roof.
Crews from Ensley and other fire stations fought the blaze for nearly 20 minutes. Officials believe it began on the back porch.
The mother, her 13-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son all escaped unharmed thanks to a family friend and neighbor who alerted them of smoke.
Lainey Schaefer, a close friend of the homeowner, saw the home after the fire.
"It was unreal. It just went up so fast. One minute there was smoke and the next there were flames the length of the house," said Schaefer.
Schaefer, who lives two doors down, was leaving her home around 9 a.m. when she saw smoke coming from the home.
She says she ran over and helped Terri and her two children, a 13-year-old girl and 18-month-old toddler get out.
Schaefer says the homeowner was actually in the shower when the fire began, only a few feet away from the back porch, where Schaefer says she saw smoke billowing out just minutes earlier.
"Terri (the homeowner) is a single mom. She's only lived here for about 7 or 8 months. I'm just sick for her," Schaefer said.
Neighbors are still shocked. Dorothy Parker lives next door and could only watch the blaze, hoping everyone made it out okay.
"It's scary because everyone in this neighborhood is friendly. Everyone has come together as a community to help them. But that's all we can do,' said Parker.
Schaefer said the family is just happy no one was hurt.
"Possessions mean nothing. It matters when you have family that you love and you know they're out safe. Terri has a really good look at it – she's just glad her children are safe," Schaefer said.
The Florida State Fire Marshall is still investigating the blaze.
Schaefer, is accepting donations on behalf of the family to help them back on their feet. Clothes, food, etc. She left an email address to contact her about donations: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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