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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – A Christmas tree fire forced a single mother and her two kids from their home Friday morning.

After seeing that they were left homeless, Miami Beach firefighters and police organized an effort to help the family with gifts and toys and gift cards for clothing and food.

The Fire Chief said they wanted to help the family through a “tough time.”

New surveillance tape obtained by CBS4 shows the dramatic moments right after the blaze as 11-year-old Alexandra Bolivar is seen rushing out of the apartment that is billowing smoke and then going back towards it and screaming at her mother to get out.

Her mother, Ericka Molina, is captured on tape as you see the top of her head behind some bushes.

Her 17-year-old daughter, Jessy Vazquez, was at Miami Beach Senior High School when the fire broke out just before 8 a.m.

The fire broke out inside their apartment at 1509 Washington Avenue in Miami Beach.

“The fire spread from the Christmas tree,” said Molina. “It happened so fast. There was not anything we could do.”

Molina told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “It was very dangerous.”

Bolivar said, “My mom was in back and we smelled the smoke. I saw the Christmas tree on fire and I was going to go to the Manager’s house but then I thought I better called 911. When 911 was called, I started screaming but the first thing on my mind was my bird. Was my bird going to survive.”

Molina said she was in the bathroom when she felt heat coming from the other side of the door.

She did not get out until after her daughter yelled at her to leave.

The fire destroyed the tree, presents under the tree, furniture and more.

However, it is the season of giving and the City of Miami Beach Fire and Police Department is not letting the Grinch steal Christmas from this family.

Feeling the holiday spirit, the Miami Beach Firefighter Charity, an organization that gives back to families in need, bought the family toys, clothing and groceries to help them recover. They also delivered gift cards as well.

Miami Beach Fire Chief Virgil Fernandez was there and told CBS4, “Fire is such a destroyer and in this Christmas season, we look for a little peace and joy for this family who are faced with this and we wanted to take these items to them to get them through this tough time.”

He said the City Manager was also part of this effort.

Alexander Bolivar looked at the gifts and said “I have some nail polish and paints and other toys and all I can say is thank you.”

Her mother said, “We are so happy to get this. I want to say thank you to everyone and the community and all the people. It is a special time. We lost something but we got to win something too.”

Jessy Vazquez wept at she told D’Oench, “I didn’t expect this. No one did. Every day should be a good day and things do happen for a reason. It is overwhelming but I know we will find a way. We do feel all the support from everyone and that gives me hope and motivation that I can stay strong for my mother and little sister. I know they are going to need that.”

“I feel grateful that other people care that you are not alone in things like this,” she said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Chief Fernandez says it is not known if the blaze was electrical in nature.

CBS4 was there was firefighters entered the charred and gutted apartment Friday afternoon. It is uninhabitable. It was the only apartment that was evacuated.

Ericka Molina said she thought that she and her daughter’s would be able to stay with her mother.


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