ABILENE, Texas - Tiffany Phillips was not home Thursday when a fire started on her apartment patio at Mill Creek.
Fire investigators said a lit cigarette fell off the balcony of Phillips' upstairs neighbor and lit her patio on fire. It scorched everything she had inside.
"It's bad. It's not like it used to be. It's just black and wet and that smell, that smoky smell is still in there. The walls are gone. Everything that we had was on the floor or outside in a pile," said Phillips.
Phillips was visiting the emergency room Thursday when she got the phone call saying her apartment was on fire. By the time she got home her apartment was destroyed.
"I saw the patio and I lost it. I didn't know how bad inside it was and I just thought, 'This is all we have. That's us right there.' And to see it all burned like that was too much," said Phillips.
Phillips and her 8-year-old son Ryan lost all their belongings to the flames. Their three month old puppy, Cowgirl, didn't make it out.
Phillips' step dad couldn't bring himself to tell Ryan what happened to his best friend.
"He told him the fire had got our apartment and he asked, 'What about Cowgirl?' And he said, 'We think she got out.' But right now I just don't want to tell him," said Phillips.
Phillips said she knows it was an accident, but it's hard not to be upset about how the fire started.
"Put the cigarette out. Because one cigarette just did that. Took everything. I mean the whole home," said Phillips.
Phillips' friends, family and coworkers are helping in whatever way they can.
"The ladies there, everybody there, gave me some scrubs for work and got Ryan some clothes. They gave me some shoes so I can go to work tomorrow," said Phillips.
She said there's still a long way to go.
"Having to pick up and start over… I'm a little worried and scared about it, but I know that I'll have help and that I won't be alone through it," Phillips said.
Mill Creek apartment complex is paying for Phillips to stay in a hotel until Monday. She isn't sure where she will go after that.
Phillips said the thing she needs most right now is a place to live. She's looking for a house because she doesn't want to risk living in another apartment.
To donate money to Tiffany you can visit her GoFundMe page.
You can also visit First Financial Bank and donate money under her name, Tiffany Phillips.
- Christmas market in Abilene benefits African orphanage
- Russian man caught with synthetic opioid in Abilene, could face deportation
- Abilene's Food for Fares campaign nearing its end
- City of Abilene offering trolley tour of homes decorated for holidays
- Abilene parents fear impending cuts to therapy for children