• Military family's rental home destroyed by fireworks on New Year's

    By: Cole Heath

    Updated:

    CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - A fireworks celebration at a home in Clay County early New Year’s Day ended in disaster. Action News obtained video from a witness showing their neighbor's home consumed by fire.

    First responders say there were some fireworks still smoldering in a trash can when that family brought it into their garage.

    A neighbor’s cellphone video captures the moment smoldering fireworks apparently sparked the fireball. Fireworks, which the family said were doused with water before being thrown out, could even be heard exploding in the background.

    Just moments before the fire, Janey Ortega and her family were counting down the New Year inside.

    “We said happy new year, then the house started filling up with smoke,” Ortega said.



    Roughly two days later, smoke detectors still beep through what’s left of Ortega's rental home.

    The whole house was gutted. A car’s skeleton and a few items in the driveway are all firefighters could salvage, including Ortega's husband's boots. He serves in the Navy.

    “We had to throw out all his clothes and everything. The smell, we washed them, it didn't work,” Ortega said.

    And inside, a ninja turtle in her son’s bedroom. Making matters worse, the family doesn't have renters insurance.

    “We have don’t have anything left, no furniture, no clothes,” Ortega said.

    The family escaped with only the clothes on their backs. They're staying with family. They're also moving on with the help of neighbors.

    So far, people have donated hundreds to a GoFundMe account, small gestures to help the Ortega family get over a large hurdle.

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