TWIN FALLS - It was a year ago when a Christmas tree fire took the Niska family'* home.
One year later and, once again, they're looking for a new place to live.
The family'* apartment was destroyed Wednesday in a blaze that stole their home - and their hopes for a happy Christmas.
Fire crews responded to their apartment at the corner of Fairfield Street and Wall Avenue about 3:30 p.m. Flames had already engulfed the second-floor living space. The residence sits above a business, Key Distributors Inc., a seed supplier, that also eventually burned.
All available Twin Falls crews responded to the blaze - a fire that blew a 55-gallon barrel 100 feet in the air and two blocks away more than 2 ½ hours after it started.
"I was so scared," said DeeAnn Niska, who escaped with her two youngest children, 5-year-old Hannah and 3-year-old Noah. "We're just lucky to be alive."
Her two other children were at school during the fire.
Niska, who is nine months pregnant and expected to deliver in six days, was changing Noah'* diaper on the living room floor when, she said, the room became dark and she noticed smoke near the ceiling.
She grabbed her children and attempted to escape through the front door. But the door was too hot to open, so Niska and the children stepped onto a second-floor balcony and began screaming for help.
Workers at nearby businesses heard her frantic cries and positioned a ladder against the burning building as Hannah shrieked, "I don't want to die." The family escaped with no injuries.
One Key employee, Jelean Hale, was on the main level when the fire broke out. She also escaped with no injuries.
At the scene, Twin Falls police Sgt. John Wilson said the fire started in the apartment but he was unsure of the details.
Electricity was shut off to much of downtown for about two hours starting about 3:45 p.m.
By 7:15 p.m., dozens of people had gathered to watch fire crews battle the blaze. Flames could be seen as far away as the U.*. 93 interchange near Filer.
Niska said a different fire burned the home she and her husband, Martin, occupied last year when their Christmas tree ignited.
Martin Niska is an employee at Key.
The family said they didn't know what they were going to do after this fire consumed their home and all their possessions so close to Christmas.
"I don't know," DeeAnn Niska said. "But I'm sure God will provide."