OMAHA, Nebraska — Omaha firefighters had to battle two early Christmas Day house fires. The first fire started around 12:30 a.m. in Ralston, just southwest of Omaha.
Four people had to leave their home after a fire started in an upstairs bedroom of a home near 80th and Lakeview streets.
“It was seconds, in one second my house was in flames, everything happened in a minute,” homeowner Jessica Rivera said in Spanish.
Rivera says she was celebrating Christmas Eve with her husband, Enoc, their two sons, ages 7 and 12, and a friend when smoke started filling the home. She said the haze seemed to be coming from her bedroom.
“When we opened the door, I saw the flames rising to the ceiling,” Rivera said.
Rivera said she and her husband rushed to get their children out the door. Enoc told that he punched through a glass window sheet to help dissipate the smoke. Therefore, his hand was in gauze Christmas morning.
The only things the family was able to save were themselves, and their car.
“We lost the two kids’ bedrooms, my room, the living room, we lost everything,” Rivera said.
Newly-opened gifts were sitting in the hallway and living room Christmas morning. The table sat with half-eaten plates of food. The only difference is that everything had a layer of dirt on top of it.
Omaha Fire Department Assists Local Brigades
Ralston firefighters knocked down the fire with assistance from the Omaha Fire Department. No injuries were reported.
The Red Cross was called in to help the family find a place to stay for the night. Rivera said it was the last place she imagined herself to be on Christmas.
“You’re with your family, you see your kids happy, and suddenly you feel as if you’ve lost it all in a second,” she said, “and it’s very sad.”
Rivera said she’s grateful that she and her family members were able to escape unscathed.
The family believes the blaze started somewhere along the chimney of their wood burning stove.
The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the case.
Omaha firefighters then went to a second house fire, which started around 1:30 a.m. in the basement of a home near 14th and Browne streets. The flames caused extensive damage before crews could put them out.
Firefighters said no one was home when the fire started.
The causes of both fires are under investigation.