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'I'll come out stronger' | Family leans on faith after losing home and beloved pets in fire

Melissa Kirby said her family was not home at the time. But all three of her pets died.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Melissa Kirby's family spent 10 years celebrating birthdays, riding scooters and making memories in their family home. But on Monday that all changed, she said, when a heater set her home ablaze.

"I got that call that there was a house fire our neighbor said it was on fire," she said. "I panicked and asked her to call 911...she did."

Thankfully, no one was home, but Kirby said that was almost not the case.

"Normally my 13-year-old daughter would be home... but she came to work with me luckily," she said.

But her dog, cat and rabbit were inside.

"I was screaming at them to get the pets out," she said. "They did what they could."

Unfortunately none of them made it.

"We never found the kitten, but the rabbit and the dog were both killed," Kirby said.

Days later Kirby said she is still processing what happened.

"It comes and goes," she said. "I cry a lot... but I'm toughing it out some."

After heading back to work at her diner, Kirby said each day she feels more supported.

"People I don't even know were coming here and making donations... I want to say thank you," she said. 

Though her house is gone, Kirby said her faith is what's pulling her through.

"At the end of every storm there is a rainbow," she said. "Storms make trees take deeper roots."

Community members created a GoFundMe donation page to help the family. You can find that here.