A Gulfport Family Is Homeless For Christmas After Blaze

"When we first got here, there was a lot of fire coming through the house. It was almost burnt through the roof," said Lt. Barry Oakes of the Gulfport Fire Department.

A burned frame and ashes are all that's left of the Clayton's home on Fern Avenue. Seven people, ages 5 to 50, were inside the house when the fire broke out. Everyone managed to escape, but a friend of the family says it was a close call for a 15-year-old inside.

"My boyfriend called and said he had to save his auntie and autistic cousin. His cousin didn't want to come out of the house, I guess because he'd been living there for a long time, so he had to practically rough him up to get him out of the fire," Betty Thompson said.

The family escaped with their lives, but lost all of their possessions.

"It's a tragedy that they lost everything. They weren't able to get anything out of the house, no Christmas gifts, no bedding, no clothing. They weren't able to get anything,' said Gulfport Fire Chief Pat Sullivan.

Investigators believe a burning candle may have caused the fire.

"They had candles burning in the living room,and somehow the candles either got knocked over or got pushed to close to the curtain, and the curtains caught fire," Chief Sullivan said.

Meanwhile, friends and relatives are trying to console the family.

"I called my auntie. She's a pastor. I told her to pray for the family. Maybe everything will get back together, back to normal and they'll be blessed. By the grace of God, their lives are still here," Betty Thompson said.

The Red Cross is providing temporary housing for the family.