'I'm sorry': Family says 3-year-old accidentally started fire that destroyed home

'I'm sorry': Family says 3-year-old accidentally started fire that destroyed home

CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. — A family is working to recover after narrowly escaping a massive fire at their Cleveland County home early Wednesday morning.

Erica DiMarco told Channel 9 her 3-year-old son woke her up around 5 a.m. --  just in time to get him and his 2-year-old brother out as flames ripped through their home on Knoll Road in Grover.

She said after they were out safely, she screamed to wake up her boyfriend, Louis Zazueta, who was still asleep on a couch inside the home.

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Zazueta said he heard his family yelling from outside and woke up to plumes of black smoke in the air. He managed to escape the fire through a nearby window.

"I heard screaming from outside," he said. "From my bedroom, there was nothing but smoke. It was hot. I couldn't see anything. It was black."

He said after he got out, he called for his two dogs that were still inside, but they both died in the fire.

The family believes the 3-year-old was in the living room playing with his brother and messed with a propane heater, which sparked the fire.

DiMarco told Channel 9's Ken Lemon that her son later said, "I'm sorry.'​​​​​​"

The family said they're happy they made it out alive, but lost everything in the flames. They told Channel 9 that they do not have insurance.

The American Red Cross is helping them get back on their feet.