McALESTER, Oklahoma - A fire rips through a McAlester home leaving a Marine veteran and his family with nothing, just a week before Christmas. 

The Mayer family’s home was all but destroyed, but they said they're just grateful to be alive.

Bradley Mayer is still haunted by what he saw. 

"It's just so unreal," he said, "It was very scary. We could have been asleep. There's our bedroom right there."

Mayer and his wife went out for his mother-in-law’s birthday dinner Wednesday night and when they returned, their home was in flames. 

"All our bathrooms, our clothes in the bedroom are gone," he said. 

Mayer’s aunt said she heard an explosion and when she ran down the street she could see flames ripping through the home.  

"It just kind of went kaboom. And the whole house just kind of shuttered," said Mayer’s aunt, Amy Richmond. 

"Everything was on fire and I was worried about my animals," said Mayer. 

All but one of Mayer's animals were found safe after the fire, but their cat Simba was nowhere to be found, until Thursday. 

Simba finally returned home, safe and sound and he’s not the only symbol of hope the family has found.

"The only thing that we found so far that survived was one of his marine flags that says don't tread on me," said Richmond. 

"It was the strangest thing to see it got saved. Don't tread on me. Nothing can keep you down," Mayer said. 

Instead of celebrating Christmas at home, the Mayer's are starting over and praying for a Christmas miracle

"First home after I got out the marine core. Now I got this," Mayer said, "God's got a plan so we'll figure it out. As long as we got the animals and each other. It should work out."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 

Family members set up a Go-Fund-Me account to help get the couple back on their feet.