Man dies after saving fiancee's family from Christmas Day fire

Image 1 of 5

Five people who survived a house fire in Arlington on Christmas day say they owe their lives to the one man who didn't.

Jackie Goulet and her mother are both alive because of the final moments of bravery by her fiancé and best friend, 36-year-old Eric Chambers.

“He put everybody before himself,” Goulet said. “He's always been like that."

On Christmas morning around 4:30 a.m., Goulet and Chambers were up early to wrap last minute Christmas gifts at the home on Carpenter Drive.

"I told him to turn the Christmas tree lights on because it seemed too gloomy in there,” she recalled. “He turned them on, and we went to the garage."

Moments later, Goulet’s 12-year-old son yelled that the house was on fire. She ran inside to see the Christmas tree in flames. In the moments that followed, Chambers jumped into action.

"He made sure my mom got out and he got my aunt out,” Goulet said. “She's handicapped, too. So she was scared. He made sure she got out. And as soon as she was coming out the door, he was yelling, ‘You got Hailey?! You got everybody?!’ And we're like, ‘Yeah we got everybody!’"

After going into the burning house at least three separate times, Chambers even paused at the front door to make sure the dog got out, too.

"You could tell he was just in shock, just glad he got everybody out,” Goulet said. “Then, he just dropped. I was able to get him to walk two feet, and he dropped and said, ‘My face got burnt trying to get out the front door.’"

It was the last thing Chambers said to his fiancée. Arlington firefighters arrived and took him to the hospital, but he died a short time later.

"He knew what he was doing when he went in that fire to get everybody out,” said homeowner Jeanine Gabriel. “I say he's a hero, and he's gonna be an angel on your shoulder for the rest of your life."

Goulet said she and Chambers had known each other for 17 years. They had only recently started dating and got engaged just last month.

"He said I was his twin flame and I filled the void that he couldn't fill with everything else in his life,” she said. “He's finally found me and he was happy and ready to move forward, and it's taken away."

Goulet said she’ll still change her last name to Chambers in his honor even though they didn't get married. He also leaves behind three kids off his own.

Friends have set up a page to for funeral expenses and to help Goulet’s family recover after the fire.

Firefighters have not determined the cause of the fire.