Priscilla Gibson knows about picking up shattered pieces and getting on with life.
The 20-year-old woman moved to Rock Hill four months ago for a better-paying job, one she lost three weeks ago. Then a fire Thursday stole her family's home and everything inside.
"We just got up from ground zero, and now we're back," Gibson said. "We're heartbroken."
But not ungrateful.
"I'm just glad that my kids are still safe and happy," she said as 11-month-old Sabrina demanded a bottle and toddlers Desire and Anjelica slept.
Thursday morning's fire destroyed Gibson's Simpson Street house, leaving Gibson and her family homeless. One other person also was displaced because of the fire.
No one was hurt during that blaze, which was triggered by bedding being too close to an portable heater, said Capt. Rusty Myers of the Rock Hill Fire Department.
Officials have deemed the house a total loss, he said.
The fire was the second in less than a week that involved a portable heater. A kerosene heater is suspected as the cause of a fatal apartment fire Saturday in Rock Hill, Myers said.
"People should be cautious while using portable heaters during the cold months," Myers said. "Heaters should be kept within a safe distance from flammable materials such as curtains, bedding and clothing."
Around 4 a.m. Thursday, Gibson and her husband checked to make sure that their children were still covered by a blanket. Satisfied, the couple left their girls' bedroom and went back to sleep.
But their sleep was interrupted.
"My daughter came in the room," Gibson said, referring to Desire. "She said her room was smoky. I went to check. Her blanket was burning."
But there was no fire, so Gibson moved the blanket away from the heater and unplugged it, she said. The room was gray with smoke so Gibson moved her daughters to a couch in the living room and shut the bedroom door.
"I couldn't see, and I couldn't breathe," Gibson said. "When we shut the door, there was no fire."
Darrian Gibson opened the front and back door to try to let the smoke out, he said. About two minutes later, he saw smoke coming from vents in the living room and went to investigate with a male friend.
"When we opened the (bedroom) door, the air hit the fire and it blew up to a big fire," Darrian Gibson said.
"The blanket and mattress were on fire," Priscilla Gibson said. "They said, 'Get out.' So I grabbed the babies and got outside."
Darrian Gibson added, "We got everybody out, and then my friend and I went back to get our dogs. The fire department had to rescue one."
Firefighters responded to the blaze around 6:35 a.m. Sixteen firefighters battled the blaze and left the scene around 8 a.m., officials said. The fire damaged a front bedroom, and the entire house suffered heavy smoke and fire damage.
Authorities estimate damages at $30,000, Myers said.
The Gibsons lost everything, but Priscilla Gibson's spirit wasn't broken. Instead, she counted her blessings despite being homeless and jobless.
"I didn't lose my kids," she said. "I'd rather lose everything, but not them."
The Gibson family is receiving assistance from the Upper Palmetto chapter of the American Red Cross.
Want to help?
The Upper Palmetto chapter of the American Red Cross needs help to assist families such as the Gibsons, who were displaced after a house fire.
Those wanting to help can mail checks payable to the American Red Cross to the American Red Cross, 200 Piedmont Blvd., Rock Hill, SC 29732.
For details, call 803-329-6575.