RINGGOLD, GA (WRCB) -- Katie Higdon makes herself smile when she talks about the fire that destroyed the rental house in Ringgold that she and her husband Troy have called home for nine years.

The only home youngest daughter Haley, has ever known.

"It's easier to laugh than to cry," she says.

"Cried all day yesterday, so I figured all I can do is laugh and try to make it best I can."

Troy was already at work, when Katie's mother smelled smoke about 9AM.

"The space heater next to the closet, the wiring on it caught on fire," Katie says.

"It was in my bedroom," says Haley, 8. "I  just got out! I just grabbed something off my bed and got out."

"It happened so fast, I didn't really think about it," Drew Townsend says.

Townsend was answering a maintenance call at one of the apartments his company managers on Guyler Street, directly across from the Higdon's house.

"They (Katie & Haley) were still in their pajamas," he says. "She (Katie) was shaking from more than the cold."

"The fire grew so big and there was smoke everywhere," Katie says. 'It was hard to get out."

Not everybody had. Daughters Kristina, 14, and Kassidy, 13; mother Christie, dog "Titan' and cat "Callie" were still inside.

"You hear kids and fire, you just go help em out," Townsend says.

"I went and they all were back there. We got 'em out the back (door)."

"We had two guardian angels," Katie says.

A neighbor brought food and some clothing. Townsend offered his warm Jeep.

Catoosa County Fire & Rescue would be on scene within 4 minutes of the emergency call. 

The house was too far gone.

"Now the roof stands and the house doesn't," Katie says, referring to the tornado that tore through Ringgold April 27, 2011.

"It's one or the other."

Troy would spend much of Friday morning trying to salvage.

"he's trying to stay busy,"Katie says. That way he doesn't have to think about it."

They have no renter's insurance.

"We need furniture and clothes and prayers," Katie laughs. Lots of prayers."

The Red Cross of Northwest Georgia has provided a hotel room through Sunday.

Townsend prefers to consider what he did as all in a day's work.

"My wife and children stay home all day, he says.  "I would like to think that somebody hopefully would do the same for them, if I wasn't there."

Clothing Needs

Daughter, age 14
Pants, Dress size 1
Blouse, shirt size: Small

Daughter, age 13
Junior Size 6
Shirt size: Medium

Daughter, age 8
Child size: 14-16 pants
Shirt:  XL

Work boots/shoes Size: 12C