MILWAUKEE -- A family on Milwaukee's south side said they lost 85 percent of their belongings after a three-alarm fire gutted the Furniture Depot store near 25th and Lincoln on Saturday, April 13.
The furniture store was razed on Monday, April 15. The structure became unstable after burning for hours. The homes and building next to the store were also casualties of the blaze.
"The beds, the clothes, the stuff, and in the blink of an eye it's all gone," said Victor Esparza.
"It's depressing. It's stressful," said Lizlibeth Torres.
Victor Esparza and his pregnant fiancee Lizlibeth Torres live next door to the Furniture Depot that was engulfed in flames. As firefighters worked for nearly three hours to extinguish it, thick smoke consumed the area, while water doused everything near the building.
"Everything was just ruined -- destroyed. All the water pressure from the hoses just blowing everything off. TVs broken. Clothes all over the place. Furniture flipped over. Holes in the wall. Windows all busted out. Same thing upstairs," said Esparza.
The couple and their children, along with a family of five were displaced.
"It's traumatic for young ones," said Esparza.
While they said they're devastated by the loss, they said they're grateful no one was hurt.
Those sentiments were echoed by Ahmed Helal.
"God protected us this day," said Helal.
He said on Saturday, staff had just left a meeting, and thankfully, there were no kids inside Shining Star Childcare, which sits directly behind the burned building.
"The problem is the smoke and water damage. We called a company who said it would take one to two weeks to clear the air system from inside," said Helal.
The children would be transferred to the day care's other locations.
"We just work right now to fix everything," said Helal.
As the furniture store began to be demolished Monday, Esparza and Torres said they were trying to remain positive as they work to rebuild their lives. They said they were thankful for the support from the community.
"Materialistic things can be replaced. It makes you very heartfelt. People go out of their way their way to help a stranger. It makes you feel good," said Esparza.
Investigators with the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee Fire Department were on scene again Monday, along with a dog, continuing to work to determine the cause of the fire.
A Facebook fund has been established for the Esparza family. CLICK HERE if you would like to learn more.