Instead of waking up to gifts and holiday cheer, one family’s Christmas morning was ruined by a fire, leaving them without a place to stay for the holidays.
It happened in Cicero at a duplex apartment on 29th Place near 50th Court.
Their belongings are still scattered on the icy ground after a family of five, with one more on the way, was forced to flee their home of more than a decade and watch it burn on a cold Christmas morning.
“They were looking forward to Christmas, especially my 3-year-old,” Julio Avila said.
Avila was about to start a holiday tradition with his family when he realized he’d soon be preparing to save their lives instead.
“I told my wife, ‘wake up, so we can start wrapping up the presents,'” Avila explained. “Like, 15 minutes later, that’s when my middle child is the one who told me, ‘Dad, something’s on fire!'”
They were still wrapped in some of the same clothes they were wearing when the fire ripped through their second-floor Cicero apartment, sending them into the frigid cold as years of memories and Christmas gifts burned.
“Her baptism dresses, her first communion dresses, stuff that can’t be replaced, you know?” Avila stated.
He claimed that the fire started in the basement of the duplex, just below his daughters’ bedroom, and that the entire structure was destroyed. The family is now homeless because his wife is about to give birth to their first child.
“We had everything already set for the baby upstairs, and I think we have to start all over again because everything got damaged,” Avila explained.
But the patriarch of the family remains strong, planning to make more memories with the one Christmas miracle that remains: their lives.
“You know, we haven’t really celebrated Christmas yet. I’m just trying to settle in, and we might do Christmas another day, you know?” Avila stated.
Avila stated that another family on the first floor was also displaced.
The fire’s origin is still being investigated.
Avila’s brother set up a GoFundMe page for the family, which had raised more than $3,000 as of Monday evening.
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