A Dallas police officer is learning how it feels to be the one in need of help. His home in Forney burned down on Christmas Eve. Now the family is coping through the kindness of friends and strangers.
The Christmas lights are shining at a house on Wild Rose Circle, and all the sounds of home come from inside. But it’s not home for Gerardo and Elizabeth Guardiola.
"Thank you again for inviting us over for this," Gerardo Guardiola said.
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He and his wife are spending dinner at the neighbors', while their own home sits charred and wrecked down the block.
"I was never prepared for something like that," Mr. Guardiola said.
The fire started in the chimney of an outdoor fireplace at the back of the house. The kids noticed smoke coming out the side when they were outside playing and the family had just minutes to react.
"We just said everybody get out of the house. Get out of the house now," Guardiola said.
Senior Corporal Guardiola is used to working around yellow tape. He's spent 21 years as a Dallas police officer. But he never expected to see it where he lives.
"Just total devastation. There's no other way to describe it," Guardiola said.
The fire struck on Christmas Eve, 12 years to the day after the couple moved in and started their family.
"They were born here, learned how to walk, learned how to crawl all in this house," said Sr. Corporal Guardiola.
They're grateful everyone survived but the loss is still deep. Especially since Guardiola spent hours working on the house with his dad.
"He's since passed away and I really wanted to keep this house the way it was forever and ever but that's not going to happen," Guardiola said.
But tonight they sit around the table with new family. The kind you choose and don't let go.
"We're all here together and we're going to do anything for them," said neighbor Candice Martinez.
Neighbors, friends and strangers have reached out with donations.
"Thank you,” Guardiola said. “I can't say it enough, thank you."
The outpouring of support is a second act: hope growing from destruction.
If you would like to help Sr. Corporal Guardiola and his family you can make a donation to the Dallas Assist the Officer Foundation in his name: Gerardo Guardiola.
Click here to donate.