It's the last thing Damon Groth expected when he returned home from work Saturday night.
"Everything was gone," Groth said.
The home he lived in with his girlfriend and her twelve year old son on the corner of East Walnut Street was filled with smoke.
Groth says he tried to rescue his two cats while neighbors ran to the fire station that was so close, it was faster to pound on the doors and the windows than to call 9-1-1.
"You could hit it with a stone by barely lobbing it. It's right across the yard."
The flames spread more quickly than crews could get into position.
Investigators say the fire started in the dryer and claimed just about everything; including the family pets.
"We've only been able to recover 1/4th of our photos and memories."
The rest is gone, but Groth and his family say they choose to focus on what's left.
They’re counting their blessings as the holiday season nears.
Relatives have taken them in and the Des Moines community has stuck by their side.
"The support from friends and family has been amazing. That helps a lot," Groth told Channel 13 News.
So will the benefit motorcycle ride that friends say they are organizing to help even more. Details on the ride are still to come.