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A family of seven from Hemet was left homeless Friday after a fire started by a spark on their Christmas tree ripped through their mobile home. Neighbors gave a helping hand Tuesday, collecting donations for the family to stay at a hotel, and organizing a gift giveaway for the children. Tena Ezzeddine reports from Hemet for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013.
A Southern California family is grateful just to be alive after their Christmas tree caught fire and burned their home to the ground.
Neighbors on Tuesday gathered to help the Alvarados, a family of seven who lost everything they owned when a spark from their light-wrapped Christmas tree caught fire and destroyed their Hemet mobile home.
"We are thankful to have each other here," Yadira Alvarado, 16, told NBC4. "We’re all thankful we came out alive."
Friends of the family collected gifts for the children and donations for the family to stay at a hotel.
"It's Christmastime. I feel sad they have five kids and they don't have cars, they don't have anything," neighbor Shawn Mullenix said.
The fire broke out about 10 p.m. Dec. 20 in the Santa Rosa Mobile Home Park while some of the family members were sleeping, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.
"Our tree was drying up and the lights were on all day," Yadira said.
The family lost two cars, Christmas gifts and everything else inside the home except the clothing on their backs and a few photos.
"The fire spread quickly, and we were lucky to get out," Yadira said.
"Make sure your trees are watered and make sure to dispose of them as soon after Christmas as possible," Hemet Fire Capt. Steve Sandefer told the news outlet. "The drier they get, the more dangerous they are."
This holiday season, the Alvarados are without a home, but they are not without hope.
"(We are) grateful we have each other," Yadira said. "Because if we lost each other, we'd be completely devastated."