Tony Fisher, Arah Anderson and all of their sleeping children survived the destructive nighttime fire on May 26

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Fisher family
The Fisher family
| Credit: GoFundMe

A family of 12 is struggling to cope after losing nearly everything in a fire that ravaged their St. Louis home last week.

Tony Fisher, Arah Anderson, and their nine kids have been staying in a hotel after a massive fire suddenly broke out in their home on the morning of May 26.

Luckily, everyone staying in the five-bedroom, three-bathroom home made it out safely with no injuries. The family's oldest daughter, 19, had been at her her apartment during the time of the incident.

"I'm really sad about it, but I'm more sad for my kids because they wanna go home," Arah, 38, tells PEOPLE. "It's been the first time I haven’t been able to provide and it's totally out of my control."

Fisher family
The Fisher family
| Credit: GoFundMe

It's been a challenging few months for the Fisher family since the coronavirus pandemic hit earlier this year.

At the end of March, Tony, 43 — who is the sole provider for the family — was furloughed from his housekeeping job of more than six years at the Marriott Grand Hotel in downtown St. Louis.

Without a steady income, the family struggled to make ends meet and to care for their younger children, which includes a set of 1-year-old twins, a set of 5-year-old triplets, three sons (ages 6, 11, and 13) and a 14-year-old daughter.

Arah, who had previously been a stylist at Nordstrom before becoming a stay-at-home mom, focused on the difficult task of helping her kids adjust to remote learning. At the same time, she and Tony — who have been together for 18 years — were also coping with the uncertainty of their September wedding.

Fisher family
Damage from the fire
| Credit: GoFundMe

Then, the fire erupted and destroyed their home. Because it occurred in the early morning hours, Arah says it felt like "the twilight zone" as she and Tony went from a "comfortable sleep" to scrambling to gather their children.

"I was in a state of shock, but I was scared," she recalls, noting that the whole first floor was engulfed in flames so they had to escape from their bedroom's second-floor balcony door.

Despite feeling "out of it" and "not thinking correctly," Arah and Tony managed to move quickly and get their children out by tossing them from the balcony — thanks to the help of a "random gentleman" that Arah says appeared and helped catch the kids.

"He came out of nowhere," she says. "I've never seen him before... it was such a blessing."

After all the kids had escaped, Arah said a prayer before lowering herself down the banister to safety.

Once everyone was out, she repeatedly checked to make sure all nine children were there.

Fisher family
Damage from the fire
| Credit: GoFundMe

"I was panicking and hyperventilating," she recalls. "It's traumatic for a mother because, man, imagine if I left a kid behind? I would be no good... and if I did I would go back in the fire to get them and probably kill myself."

"I play all these scenarios in my head, every day I think about it," she adds. "We are really, really blessed [to be alive], that’s why I can't complain."

At this time, it is currently unclear how the fire started, but Arah says the St. Louis Fire Department and insurance company are investigating the incident.

On its Twitter feed, the St. Louis Fire Department confirmed responding to the "heavy fire" on the 4500 block of S. Compton around 3 a.m. Close to a half-hour later, the department said the fire had been put out and no injuries were reported.

A spokesperson with the St. Louis Fire Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Fisher family
Fisher family
| Credit: GoFundMe

In the days following the fire, Arah says the family has struggled to find housing for two adults and nine children, especially because they can't stay with family members due to concerns surrounding COVID-19.

"This is the worst time that anything could’ve ever happened," she says. "I've had a hard life but I always came out victorious... right now, I'm losing control. But I can't focus on me… I have to make sure the kids are okay."

To help the family get back on their feet, a GoFundMe page has been set up on their behalf for essentials like housing, food and clothing. So far, more than $21,000 has been raised.

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"We are asking for everyone’s support in helping them reach a level of stability," the page reads. "They are currently left with only the clothes they escaped in. Many of the children did not have socks or shoes, as the fire took place while sleeping... Any way you can help is a blessing!"

A "Fisher Family of 12 Fire Restoration" Facebook page has also been established by their loved ones, along with an Amazon Wishlist.

The community support is one of the reasons Arah says she actually feels fortunate, even though she's struggling to accept that nearly everything — including beloved keepsakes, such as photographs and her kids' report cards — was ruined in the fire.

"We're being blessed in ways I can't describe," Arah says. "Despite [the fact] that we lost everything, we still see the blessing in people's support and the blessing in kindness. We're so grateful."