KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Lester Dave lit a fire in his wood stove Wednesday morning to fight the cold from the snow outside. The warmth turned to disaster when he noticed a small spark in a crack along the chimney.
Dave opened the access door to the stove from his garage noticing the whole chimney was on fire.
"It's the three words you never want to hear. 'Get up. Get out. The house is on fire.' I mean, it was a very shocking experience," said Allison Henningsen.
Henningsen was living with her good friends at the time. She jumped out of bed with little time to think.
"I held the water hose and told him to get what he needed out of there. Of course, we did the best we could," said Henningsen.
The two were able to make it out of the house with family photos and the pets, worried everything else could be lost.
"It started in the center of the house and went in both directions," said Rural Metro Battalion Chief Jonathon Rood.
Heavy flame, smoke and water damage most likely mean the homes a complete loss. Dave built the house 19 years ago, hammering each nail in on his own.
"I saw this house about 19 years ago without even a roof on it, and everything was built by his hands. And then just to watch it crumble down was really, really traumatic," said Henningsen.
Even more traumatic for Dave since it brings back memories of his late father. Years ago, he took the insurance money he got after his father's death to build this house. Now he says he sees his father every time he looks at it.
"Hopefully with the help of friends and family and church and a lot of prayers... we'll just go from there," said Henningsen.
The family remained optimistic, saying they'll move into their RV until they can rebuild.