ARLINGTON, Texas -- A North Texas family says they barely escaped a Christmas morning fire with the "clothes on their back" thanks to a man who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Eric Chambers, 36, died Monday from injuries sustained in a devastating house fire on Carpenter Drive.
But before collapsing in the driveway, Chambers helped rescue two children, two women and a family dog from his fiance's home.
"He's an angel now. He'll watch over us [...] we'll always be grateful," said Jeannine Gabriel.
Her daughter, Jackie, was engaged to Chambers not long ago.
She said the family awoke in a panic around 4 a.m. when their Christmas tree somehow caught fire.
"The tree lit up. It was just a big blow in the shape of a tree," she said.
Chambers rushed into the house three times to get out Jackie's kids, the women, and a family dog, before eventually falling unconscious due to smoke inhalation.
"He got confused the last time he went in and sort of ran into the fire," said Gabriel.
Arlington firefighters worked to revive the man, but he never recovered.
"They worked very diligently on scene, and at the hospital, but were unsuccessful," said Lt. Mike Joiner. "They [the family] feel like he really saved their life."
Investigators haven't determined what caused the tree to ignite. They estimate there is more than $45,000 in damage.
"We lost everything. The clothes on our back is what we have," said Gabriel.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with recovery, as well as Chambers' funeral services. Arrangements for that are pending.
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