GASTONIA, N.C. -- It's a terrible lesson to learn but Tangela and Mark Smith's story could save your life.
The Gastonia family is now living in a camper after a grease fire torched their kitchen, destroying some of their most prized possessions.
"I lost everything," Tangela said.
A trip inside their home shows memories turned to ash.
“I feel like it’s my fault, my family is basically homeless," Tangela said, a mother and grandmother.
She had just returned home from the hospital last Monday and was cooking chicken on the stove when a small grease fire turned torrential all due to where she keeps her grease, above the stove.
The fire ignited the grease above the stop top, which sent the entire kitchen into flames.
Firefighters say if you have a grease fire:
- Turn off the source of heat whether it's a burner or the oven.
- Absolutely do not pour water on it
- Attempt to smother it by covering it with a pot or baking pan, if it's too big to cover then pour baking soda on it.
If the fire is out of hand, immediately call 911.
"The smoke took it all," recalled Tangela, "All the babies stuff, my furniture, everything in my kitchen.”
This loss comes nine months after Tangela nearly lost the love of her life, Mark, after he suffered a massive heart attack.
"The doctors didn’t give him a good chance of living," Tangela said. "He actually died for 25 minutes and his heart stopped another 15 times.”
Even with no roof over their heads, the Smith's have had bills through the roof after their youngest grandson spent 11 days in the NICU.
"This right here is my heart," Tangela says as she holds one of her grandbabies.
Despite it all, the grandmother is still smiling.
"I think we've hit rock bottom but then again you know you sit around and you think to yourself 'your life is horrible' and all this going wrong, and there's someone out here that's a lot worse than you are," she said.