LANCASTER, N.Y. — A Lancaster family lost everything this weekend, just days before Christmas.
The family's home went up in flames on Saturday, destroying everything inside and leaving the home a total loss.
But the community is already coming together to help.
Among the rubble left behind was evidence that children grew up in the Lancaster home.
Just days before Christmas, Peggy Ludwig was in her home on School Street in Lancaster with her two daughters. Her two sons, one of whom is severely autistic, weren’t home. Peggy says they were preparing to make Christmas cookies when her home filled with smoke.
"The littlest one smelled smoke, and then we seen smokes coming through the vents when I opened the door. The entire house was engulfed," Ludwig said.
She battled the flames and got her daughters to safety.
"She’s a hero, I’m so grateful she was able to save them," said Ludwig's sister, Patricia Tirone.
She even went back inside to save their pets. Both dogs and a cat were found safe. One cat is still missing.
Peggy says she believes it was their real Christmas tree that started the fire.
“It’ll be the best Christmas because we are all alive and all together, so it doesn’t matter," she said. "It’s just a house, and my kids are good. They’re all happy, it’s just stuff.”
Peggy says she is overwhelmed by the amount of support they have been given over the last 24 hours.
As of 1 p.m. Monday, a GoFundMe page has already raised more than $27,000 for the family, and a benefit is planned Monday at a local dance studio.
That benefit will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at Elite Dance Company, at 5360 Genesee Street in Bowmansville. The people there will be collecting donations, clothing (boys XXL, men's XL, girls 10, girls 12/14, and women's XL), toiletries and more.