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Eight people who escaped a house fire in Oak Bluff couldn't do anything but watch, as the blaze tore through their home early on Thursday morning. 

The fire, which Gerald Harris says he noticed early in the morning when he got up to get a late night snack, started in the garage and quickly made its way into the main house. 

The family held a news conference on Friday morning to talk about what happened. 

"We watched it spread from one side of the house to the other and just watched as it burned to the ground," Gerald said. "Now it's just a pile of rubble." 

"The blessing of this is we all got out alive. We still have each other."

fire oak bluff houseThe fire started just after 1:00 a.m., according to the family

Gerald and his wife Christina Harris were two of eight people in the house at the time of the fire. Two of their three daughters, a family friend, as well as Christina's mother, father and brother were in the house as well. 

The family says they were renting the house at the time of the fire, but had future plans to purchase it. 

In addition to all of their clothing and other possessions, the family lost the Christmas presents they bought for each other and a number of family heirlooms. 

Christina said it all happened very quickly. 

"There was so much smoke and all we could do was try and get the girls out," she said. "We went out the back and onto the deck and in that short amount of time we couldn't go back in." 

Manitoba RCMP say officers responded to the fire around 1:20 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 20 and found the house engulfed in flames. 

fire oak bluff dogThe family says Ellie (pictures) may have escaped and could be in the Oak Bluff area

Two cats and a long-haired chihuahua named Ellie, a registered service animal for Christina's mother, Linda Kruger, are missing. 

The family isn't sure what became of the pets, but are asking people in the Oak Bluff area to keep an eye out for them. 

Gerald and Christina's oldest daughter, 18-year-old Mikayla, says it's an important reminder for people to cherish their family members. 

"Don't take anything for granted and hug your loved ones," she said. "Christmas isn't about the gifts and about what we can give each other, it all boils down to who you have in your life because they're always going to be there no matter what." 

fire oak bluff catsThe family isn't sure if their cats made it out, but are asking residents in the area to keep an eye out

The family says the support they've received from the community, emergency responders and their friends has been outstanding. They are all staying with different friends right now and are hoping they can find a place in the next few days where the entire family can spend Christmas together. 

A Go Fund Me campaign has been set up for the family and has raised over $14,000 as of Friday afternoon. 


- All photos courtesy of the Harris family