HASLET - Jeremy Albritton, his wife and 3-year-old daughter Jayden lost everything but their lives Friday.
The family narrowly escaped the massive fire that destroyed their home in far north Tarrant County and killed their eight pets.
Still dressed in his pajamas hours after the fire, Albritton told News 8 he believes the heater-air conditioning window unit caught fire at about 6 a.m. He said the fire spread so quickly, he and his wife, Ashley Delgado, barely had time to grab their daughter and get out safely.
The three-alarm fire destroyed the entire duplex, burning it to the ground. The Albrittons said their nine pets all died in the fire. They had five dogs, three cats and a rabbit.
The fire also destroyed several shops that had gone out of business, including a liquor store, a convenience store, and an old bar.
The property owner, Glenn Albritton, told News 8 he's grateful his family got out safely. As for the total loss he has suffered, he said he will not rebuild.
Fire departments from both Tarrant and Wise counties spent six hours putting out the flames and hot spots.
Tarrant County Fire Marshal Keith Ebel said he, too, believes the heating unit was to blame for the fire.
Ebel told News 8 the family is lucky they got out so quickly given they had no smoke detectors in their home. Ebel said the devastating fire is a reminder to be sure you have a smoke detector with working batteries in your home.
Ebel also cautioned people against relying on old heating units, especially if they haven't recently been checked by professionals.
As for the Albrittons, they will be staying with family members this holiday season until they're able to get back on their feet.