Robert Rubio died of COVID complications at 45 on Jan. 28

By Rachel DeSantis
February 19, 2021 11:34 AM
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Rubio family
| Credit: GoFundMe

A Texas family reeling from the death of their patriarch was dealt another devastating blow this week when their house was lost to a fire amid efforts to keep warm.

Stephanie Rubio and her three children lost everything but "the clothes on their back and their truck" when their home in Fort Davis burned down on Tuesday, according to CNN and a GoFundMe page.

"They just lost everything they had in a fire that took their home, belongings and every memory they created there," the page said.

The tragedy came just weeks after Stephanie's husband Robert, 45, died on Jan. 28 of COVID complications following an eight-day hospital stay, according to CNN and his obituary.

"We're a strong family and we're doing good," Stephanie told CNN. "Well, we were doing good and then of course the fire had just happened on Tuesday, and it just broke our heart again. You know, we lost the home that had all of our memories with him in it."

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Like millions of other families in Texas, the Rubios lost power early Monday morning in an unprecedented winter storm, and were reportedly keeping warm by lighting firewood in their fireplace.

With their supply just about out, Stephanie and her 15-year-old son Levi went to a nearby store to buy more — and that's when they saw smoke. A call to Levi from a friend confirmed the worst: it was coming from their house.

Stephanie's daughter Allison, 22, was asleep in the home, but her brother Blake, 16, was able to wake his sister up and get them out safely, according to CNN.

"We rushed up there to our house and it was just covered in smoke already," Stephanie told the outlet. "My daughter ran out with a picture of her dad that we got from the funeral home, with no shoes or anything."

The family's nightmare began back in January, when Levi reportedly tested positive as he and Blake prepared to go back to in-person learning at their high school.

Though Stephanie says the family isolated as much as they could and always wore masks, Blake and Robert later tested positive as well.

"We did everything we were supposed to do," she said. "It's just something that happened and we can't take it back."

Robert was borderline diabetic, and his condition soon worsened enough that he was hospitalized, then airlifted to a different hospital before he died, CNN reported. Stephanie said that in his final days, his cough was so bad that the couple texted instead of talked.

"He was just a loving person, a wonderful person," she told CNN. "The smile on his face… Oh god, the smile on his face was just enormous."

Robert and Stephanie were married for 22 years, and he was a family man who coached little league baseball, basketball and soccer in the community, according to his obituary. He loved barbecuing, eating, singing and dancing with family and friends.

Since the fire, the Rubio family has been staying in a vacant, three-bedroom apartment belonging to a neighbor, according to CNN. The apartment got power back on Wednesday.

The GoFundMe page has so far raised more than $95,000 to help get the family back on their feet.

PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to provide avenues for our readers to pay it forward during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information about Causes — hubs that bring charities, individuals, donors and corporate partners together to help people in need — visit GoFundMe.