HOLDEN, Maine — The Christmas ornaments passed down from one generation to the next are gone, burned up last month with the rest of the Turner family’s belongings, but thanks to giving community members, Christmas for the young family will happen this year.
“The community has been amazing,” Heidi Turner said Thursday while standing in the driveway of her burned-out home in Holden. “The very first day, people were calling and donating.”
The Turners lost virtually everything when fire burned through their 19th century farmhouse on Mann Hill Road on Nov. 7. Heidi and Jamie Turner and their three young boys, Maddox, 6, Ashton, 4, and Jaden, 3, all were inside and escaped the blaze without injury, but watched as the home and its attached barn were destroyed.
“It’s all gone,” Heidi Turner said. “We’ve replaced some stuff, we’ve made new ornaments, and we try to keep in mind that the kids are safe. That’s all that matters.”
Neighbors, friends and people the couple do not know have donated items, some new and some used, to the family.
“I feel like we’ve already had Christmas,” Turner said. The boys “have been bombarded by boxes of toys.”
She said the children have had so much love and support from the community, they don’t realize that the fire changed everything.
“I think all the adults took it harder than the kids did,” she said. “We’re all safe, so they think we have everything we need.”
Maddox Turner, who has a loose tooth and who soon will turn 7, said confidently Thursday that Santa will find him and his brothers at their new rented home nearby in Eddington. He said he wrote old Saint Nick a letter.
“I asked for a whittling knife and my brother Ashton wants Legos, and Jaden wants a huge monster truck,” the youngster said.
His mom added that Maddox is a Boy Scout and wants the knife so he can earn a whittling merit badge.
The kids call their burned home “the broken house,” she said.
The fire started in the barn during the early morning hours of Nov. 7, and because of the extent of the damage, its cause cannot be determined, fire officials have said.
Three dogs, two cats, two horses and a pony survived the fire, but a cat and a flock of chickens, except for one, perished.
The chicken that survived was born at Holden Elementary School last year and was named Fluffy.
“Her name is now Lucky,” Heidi Turner said. “Lucky Fluffy Turner.”
The Turner home still stands at the top of Mann Hill, which is where the couple married in 2009, but is blackened on the inside from the flames, and its siding is melted. The large barn is gone and a nearby red and white carriage house is charred on the side that faces the house.
“It’s sad to be here,” Turner said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
Community members held a spaghetti dinner and auction fundraiser for the family two weeks after the fire, and an account was set up for the family at the Bangor Federal Credit Union for donations.
“I have done hundreds of thank-you notes and have hundreds more to do,” Turner said. “I’m afraid I’m going to miss someone. We appreciate the $5 [donation] just as much as the $100. Every cent counts, and I just want people to know that.”
Jamie and Heidi Turner are doing all they can to make sure the three boys have a happy holiday.
A Christmas tree has been put up at the home the family is renting on Rooks Road in Eddington and it has been decorated with store-bought decorations and a line of new family ornaments that will be passed on to the three boys when they start their own families.
“We’re together, so we’ll have a fabulous Christmas, thanks to the community,” Turner said.