Martin Rojas spent Christmas bagging up soggy clothes and picking through ruined keepsakes, like the stack of sopping-wet photos taken in the hospital on the day his son was born.
An inch of muck - mostly crumbled ceiling tiles and dirty water - covered his kitchen floor. Amid the overwhelming stink of smoke, he swept the watery mess into the apartment hallway with a broom.
An early-morning fire left Rojas and his family homeless. And yet, Rojas felt blessed, he said.
"Thank God my family is all right," Rojas said. "I don't worry about nothing else. My little boy is safe. My wife is safe. My cat is safe. I'm safe."
City fire officials said they're still trying to determine what caused the 12:40 a.m. blaze that gutted the three-story house on Frankford Avenue near Clearfield Street in the city's Kensington section. Firefighters put out the blaze about 20 minutes later, officials said.
The house is divided into four apartments, where at least six children live with their families. All escaped unharmed, Rojas said.
Rojas, 36, said the fire started about an hour after he, his wife and their 4-month-old son returned home from his brother's house, where they celebrated Christmas Eve and exchanged gifts. Fortunately, they left their presents at his brother's house because they didn't feel like carrying them on the walk home.
Rojas and his wife were asleep in bed with their son snuggled between them. They stirred awake by the sound of their cat, "Nene," running back and forth in the living room and frantically scratching at their bedroom door, Rojas said.
When Rojas's wife opened the bedroom door, she immediately became alarmed by the sight of thick smoke. The couple turned to run outside. Rojas bundled up his son and left, clad in his boxer shorts, he said.
"I take only my kid and that's it," Rojas said.
Rojas, a cook at Bertucci's in Bryn Mawr, seemed almost Zen-like as he spoke about the fire that destroyed his home and nearly everything in it.
"I'm good," Rojas said. "I don't worry about material things."
For now, the family will stay at his brother's house. Rojas said he already has talked with his landlord about the possibility of renting another apartment from him. *