ST. PAUL, Texas — Paula Baldonado Canas' family will never forget Jan. 23, 2017 -- it is the day her four-year-old great-grandson, Aidyn Gonzales, died in a wreck on Interstate 37 in Corpus Christi.
Now, her family is dealing with more heartache.
The home in the St. Paul community of San Patricio county, where more than 20 family members would gather for holidays and other events for more than a decade, was destroyed in a fire early Friday morning.
“As soon as I opened the door, it was a big ‘ol ball of fire,” Canas' granddaughter and Aidyn's mother Amanda Gonzales said about the fire just down the road from her own home.
Canas didn't want to be formally interviewed Monday, but she credited the smoke detectors in her home with saving her life.
But getting out of her burning home wasn't easy.
"She couldn’t see," Gonzales said. "She couldn’t turn on the light, and she was stuck in (her bedroom). And then she was finally able to open the door and get out."
Canas' husband was in the hospital on the night of the fire, which might have been a blessing in disguise because of his limited mobility.
"I believe the outcome would have been very different (if he had been home)," Gonzales said. "I’m not sure what would have happened, but I don’t think it would have been great."
Gonzales is happy that her grandmother made it out of the home unharmed, but the thought of all that was lost -- including items that belonged to her late son -- make her sad.
“She had a lot of his memorabilia — a lot of his toys and clothes," she said. "She didn’t want to get rid of certain stuff. And you know -- that’s gone now. And I know items can be replaceable, but those items aren’t replaceable.”
To help the family replace the replaceable, there's a fundraising webpage set up for them.
Items also can be donated directly to the family. Those donations can be arranged by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org