TINTON FALLS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A town in Monmouth County has come together after a holiday disaster.

A family lost all of their belongings in a massive blaze, just before dawn on Christmas Day.

Flames pierced the peaceful night before Christmas, burning the Malfara family out of their home on Bridle Path in Tinton Falls. Somehow, a friend who was sleeping over, smelled smoke around 3 a.m. and got everyone out.

Neighbors smelled it too.

“I look outside, flames engulfing the house everywhere,” Anthony Setaro said.

It started in Malfara’s garage and quickly spread. Residents sounded the alarm and called each other to wake up.

“About 3:50 my phone rang. I was completely oblivious. He said very calm, ‘Doreen, I want you get dressed, get your dogs, Joe’s house is on fire,” Doreen Piazza said.

She lives next door.

“All of a sudden the flames got so high I actually thought from that angle, my house was on fire,” she said.

The wind was very strong.

“Really huge flames, embers going across these two houses here, scary night,’ Pat DesFosse said.

The Malfara’s all got out safely thanks to the house guest.

If it hadn’t been for the kids and friends they might not have gotten out because their father sleeps so soundly.

Volunteer firefighters fought the flames in the extreme cold until 6:15 a.m. but the family lost everything.

“That’s the real tragedy of it. Of course anytime a disaster like this strikes, it’s a tragedy, but on a night they may have just celebrated with family, friends, probably gave each other gifts, and to see that all go up in flames is really tragic part,” he said.

The Malfara’s only son Joe is a freshman at the University of Alabama. He lost all of his clothing, laptop, and other electronics essential for college.

Friends set up a Go Fund Me site to raise money to help the family replace the bare essentials.

They said they are very grateful to those who have offered assistance.

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