DENISON, TX -- Carla Tate had a fire going in the fireplace and was about to start wrapping Christmas presents, when she started smelling burnt plastic.
"And then a few minutes later, my youngest daughter said 'momma, I hear some popping.' So we turn the TV down. And when I heard that, I instantly walked outside, and I could see it was smoking really bad," she said.
She checked the second floor, but didn't see signs of fire.
"My son opened the attic door, and when he did, that air hit it," she said. "And when it did it just took off. So it was in the attic."
The Denison Fire Department arrived around noon. By the time, the fire was spreading through the attic.
Bill Ray, Denison Assistant Fire Chief, said attic fires are harder to contain.
"Fire also was in the walls and in the sub-floors," he said. "Which made it a little more difficult to put out."
The fire somehow escaped the fireplace flue, he said.
"There could have been some sort of breech in that flue, or the flue could have been built up, and it would allow that to escape," he said. "A lot of things can cause that, especially in metal flues."
Tate lives with her husband and three kids, and said she can't believe she's lost her home of 21 years.
"I don't know, my father lives right on here on Bell Circle, and we'll probably have to stay with him for a while," she said. "But all my Christmas ... everything."
Ray said if the flames had caught dry grass, it could have started a large wildfire.
"The people had their lawn mowed - mowed short - so the grass couldn't take off and burn," he said. "There's no substance or fires downwind of it, so we're thankful for that."
And the Tates say they're also thankful all six pets made it out safely.
"Hopefully my closet where the present are, it's closed up, I don't know if they got water, but it's on this side," Tate said.
Though the fire caused extensive damage, Ray said the house isn't a total loss, and the family should be able to rebuild.