ST. LOUIS - A military family lost almost everything in a fire that swept through their home; their uniforms, awards and military coins left badly burned. Thankfully, no one was inside the home when it caught fire last Thursday.
The Clidienst family returned home from vacation to the aftermath of heavy smoke and flames.
“That was our living,” said Jeni Clidienst as she showed 5 On Your Side around her Mehlville home.
On Thursday, the family was 30 minutes away from their vacation spot in Branson, Mo, when they got a call from their neighbor.
"I was like, ‘Do you mean like a little fire? Did you put it out? Or are we talking about a big fire?’"
Those were all of the questions going through Clidienst’s mind.
Neighbors were, in fact, talking about a significant fire. They continued to send updates, photos and video, as the Clidienst’s quickly turned around and came home.
“It just makes your heart race,” explained Clidienst.
“Because you're like that's happening and I can’t do anything.”
The family believes the fire started around back and then spread through the rest of the house. Their truck in the garage is charred. The garage roof was torn a part. They’re going to try to salvage some of their most precious mementos like pictures, baby blankets and keepsakes from Jeni’s service in the army and Nick’s in the Air National Guard.
“We have our family and that is enough,” Clidienst said.
During one of the worst moments, the Clidient’s said the people around them have been the best.
“This little community has just wrapped us up and held us close,” they said.
Neighbors just down the street have taken the family in. Complete strangers have come by with meals, clothes and helping hands.
"I was telling Nick, I was like, ‘We just have to pay it forward, just continue to pay it forward.’”
There is still no word on what caused the fire. Friends and family have also set up a GoFundMe page to help with the expenses.
© 2017 KSDK-TV