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'Hard pill to swallow': Clearwater family homeless after home goes up in flames

A mother and her four children are lucky to be alive and are now living in a hotel after a fire destroyed everything they had early Saturday morning.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Homeless with nowhere to turn, a family of five is struggling to make ends meet after a fire destroyed their home in Clearwater.

It happened early Saturday morning on Carlton Street. Clearwater Fire Rescue responded around 4:30 a.m. to put out the blaze. 

"It's just a lot and it's a hard pill to swallow. I don't know. I just keep praying. That's all I can do," Twanda Shaw said.

There's never a way to prepare for the unexpected. Now, Shaw knows the feeling all too well. The home she grew up in is now gone after the fire ripped through. The 38-year-old was asleep inside with two of her kids, her aunt and brother.

"My neighbors apparently seen the fire first and they came down and on the door to get us all out," Shaw said.

After neighbors banged on the door to wake them up, the family only had five minutes to make it out of the front door.

"Thank God we was all able to make it out, but it was just like sitting there, watch it go up in flames and can't do nothing about it. It's crazy," Shaw said.

Clearwater Fire Rescue says the fire was likely electrical and started from an overloaded outlet. Pictures below show the damage from the inside. The family is without insurance to replace everything that was lost. 

"This is our childhood home and when it did come to a situation when nobody had somewhere, nowhere to go, you knew you could always come to grandma's house. Now, it's just, you can't come here. There's nothing. We don't have nothing. It's devastating. Everything. Memories, pictures, everything is gone. We have nothing," Shaw said.

Since the fire, Shaw and her children have been living in a hotel room. She splits them up while she works overtime to try to keep the four kids afloat.

"I've never been in this type of situation before. Always had a roof over my kid's head and provide for them, but it's like, now I feel like I'm at the bottom of the bottom. I don't know what to do," Shaw said.

She prays God will help them get through because she has no other choice than to get through for her kids. 

"I have my days, I have my moments where break down. I just try to keep it together, tell my kids we're going to be OK. We're going to get through this. God ain't put us this far for nothing," Shaw said.

Oak Grove Middle School, where the kids go to school, has helped the family since the fire happened. They started a GoFundMe to get the funds to replace everything they need. If you'd like to help them, you can here.

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