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Fire destroys 40-year-old business, Christmas presents for family of 12

Published On: Dec 18 2013 05:00:52 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 18 2013 04:11:20 PM CST

An overnight fire destroyed a business and the Christmas presents for a family of 12.

AFTON, Tenn. -

An overnight fire destroyed a business and the Christmas presents for a family of 12.

We talked with the owners Wednesday as they were going to the charred remains of the family's 40-year-old business.

Hours after a major fire destroyed Charlie DiBella's cabinet shop, you can still see a few flames flickering and smoke filling the air. His daughter noticed the shop was on fire just before 2:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. "She heard a loud pop, [we think it was the] transformer. She went outside to see if neighbors' lights were on, then she noticed the fire," he said.

Karen DiBella shared pictures with us of the fire as it went from a few flames to a roaring blaze in minutes.

They watched helplessly as the business that took 40 years to build was gone in minutes. "I just looked at [Charlie], we just looked at each other," Karen said. "He said, 'There goes my life, my livelihood, to take care of this family.'"

The DiBellas have eight children, plus four grandchildren. 12 members of the family live together next door.

The building had more than tools and a work truck inside -- Christmas gifts for the children were also being stored there, and now they too are gone. "We hide all of the gifts in the shop because the kids are not allowed in the shop," he said. "All the dolls, we built a doll house for her, a big doll house. They finished painting it last night. It was beautiful."

We're told they are impressed with the community's response -- before the firefighters left the scene, a construction company showed up with a truck and told them they could use it for as long as they needed.

Wednesday morning the DiBellas were looking through the debris for answers, but only finding more questions.

We spoke with the Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department chief; he told us the building was consumed by flames by the time his crews arrived.

The damage is so severe that investigators haven't been able determine the cause.

The DiBellas say they plan to salvage Christmas as best they can.

A local school offered to help clean up this morning. As for the business, Charlie DiBella says he will rebuild.