HOUSTON -

Firefighters say a space heater was to blame for a fire that damaged a home in southwest Houston.

Imagine being away for the holidays and getting a phone call that your house is on fire and everything is destroyed. That's what happened here and now the family is forced to rebuild.

Ella Pettit was visiting loved ones in Louisiana when she got the phone call that her home, located in the 2800 block of Trail Lake, was up in flames.

"I came out the door and I saw a whole bunch of smoke and I hurried up and called right there, immediately," said neighbor Marcus Dennis.

Pettit returned to find five decades' worth  personal belongings piled up in the front yard, damaged by smoke and flames.

"You kind of hear about this stuff all the time and it's kind of sad and then when it happens to you," said Chas Moore, Pettit's grandson.

Moore says Pettit is too shaken up to talk about what happened.

A neighbor called 9-1-1 after seeing the flames.

A fire station is located only blocks away, but by the time firefighters arrived, the home had suffered heavy fire damage to the den and smoke and water damage to the rest of the structure.

"We had a bunch of family pictures of my mom who is deceased and her husband who is deceased; just a bunch of stuff you can't replace," Moore said. "But we're still living, still alive and it could be worse."

While very little was saved, the family pets that were being watched by relatives were rescued. A relative came by and picked up the dog. They took it to the vet to be checked out.

Devastated family members believe Pettit will recover.

"You can't replace irreplaceable things of course, but everything will be fine. She's a very faithful women and she'll be alright," Moore said.

Family members say Pettit does have insurance and they believe she will be able to get back on her feet.

Investigators say the fire was started by a space heater that was left on in the den.

Click here some heater safety tips from the Houston Fire Department.