Natalie Shae had just finished her last university class before graduating. She had no idea what she would find when she got home.

“I was all excited to get home…and celebrate, and I came home to nothing,” said Shae.

On Saturday, a fire that started in a house 319 Union Ave. spread to the house she rented at 317 Union Ave. Fire crews battled the stubborn blaze for hours, but the fire destroyed most of the home.

They had just moved into the house on April 1.

Shae’s partner and their three kids were home when a neighbour got them out.

“I couldn't process it at first,” said Chrsitopher French. “I was kinda in disbelief. I was watching, but I had to keep all my kids calm.”

Fire officials allowed Shae’s family back into the home on Sunday to salvage anything that survived the fire.

Shae said her family didn’t have insurance. They're now staying with family and friends as they pick up the pieces from their loss.

“I'm happy I'm alive,” said French. “I'm happy that the neighbours are okay. They were asleep when it happened.”

Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire. Damage to the two homes is estimated at $275,000 dollars.

- with a report by Rajeev Dhir