GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport family is homeless tonight after watching helplessly as fire ripped through their home this morning.
Matthew York and Alisea Menna are engaged. They lived in the house on 48th Avenue with their two girls, ages five and four.
York told WLOX News he's just grateful the fire didn't happen overnight, "Or we wouldn't be here."
Instead, they were outside talking to a neighbor when the fire started. Witnesses said it took just a few minutes for the home to become fully engulfed in flames.
One neighbor told WLOX News, "It was horrible. They [the children] were crying their eyes out saying, 'What about our clothes? Our Christmas presents are gone.'"
Menna said an electric short sparked a fire on a wool blanket that was against a wall for insulation. She said the fire spread quickly to every room.
Fire investigators have ruled the blaze an accident. Everything inside was destroyed, but by Thursday afternoon there was one bit of good news.
"We thought the cat didn't make it, but [we] just found him about 30 minutes ago," the neighbor said.
Menna and York said the family was homeless as recently as a few months ago, and had just gotten back on their feet. The American Red Cross is helping the family with an immediate place to stay, but that assistance is only temporary.
Watch for more on this story later today on WLOX News and WLOX.com.