Family blames fire on heater

Published On: Nov 21 2012 10:23:01 PM EST
Updated On: Nov 22 2012 01:38:05 AM EST

Lanita Shepherd's Westside home caught fire the night before Thanksgiving, but she said she has a good reason to be thankful this holiday season.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Lanita Shepherd's Westside home caught fire the night before Thanksgiving, but she said she has a good reason to be thankful this holiday season.

"I just think, all things happen for a reason. I don't know what the reason is right now, but I'm thankful my girls are okay and my family is okay, very thankful," said Shepherd.

The Shepherd family lost valuables, family photos, and their dog in the fire.

The fire marshal hasn't released a cause yet, but Shepherd  told Channel 4 that her daughter left a space heater on and left the house while her mother was at work.

"At first you really don’t think it's real and you think it’s a joke, and then she's crying and hysteric and she said, ‘I'm so sorry. I think I left the heater on,'" said Shepherd.

District Chief Darin Hooten said leaving heaters on is an all too common mistake this time of the year.

"Everything is flammable, including the Christmas tree and the lights on it and all that good stuff, so when you leave the house, unplug everything and make sure something like this doesn’t happen to you," said Hooten.  

The Shepherd family was planning on spending Thanksgiving with an aunt. Now, they said they’ll spend the next few nights there because they cannot return home. 

Shepherd said they'll celebrate Thanksgiving with appreciation for family and their health.

"You hear about it all the time and I never thought it would happen to me,  never.  I always tell them, don’t leave with anything on," said Shepherd. 

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