Candace Holden and the rest of her family had just turned in for the night after a Thanksgiving feast.
“We had a big Thanksgiving,” she said. “We were stuffed. We usually don’t go to sleep that early.”
Next thing she knew, she was startled by screams of a fire in the home.
Eight people escaped uninjured from a Thanksgiving night house fire in Havelock, but the home at 122 Karol Drive is considered a total loss.
“It spread so fast,” Holden said. “I was throwing kids out of the house like footballs. The only thing we saved were the kids and a TV. We tried to go back in, but we couldn’t.”
One of the family’s cats survived the fire, but one did not.
“He was gray, but had those white boots and streaks of white across his face,” Holden said of her lost cat. “He would play fetch.”
Holden, her family and friends came back to the home Friday morning to see what could be salvaged. She put a mask over her face, walked in the front door and turned left into her charred bedroom.
“Oh look, I found a book,” she said. “And there’s a pair of shoes, but I don’t think I can reach them.”
She found one of her children’s baby books and began flipping through the pages. The cover and outside of the pages were charred, but the interior pages were OK, including some pictures in the book. Her laptop computer was burned in the fire, but she hoped to somehow salvage pictures and videos of her children from the hard drive.
The ceiling had caved in, and the walls were black with soot. Her carpeted floor was a pile of wet and burnt insulation from the attic.
The back bedrooms were also covered in black soot. The family tried to salvage some clothes.
“I don’t know that we’ll be able to get the smoke out,” Holden said.
Holden was renting the home and does not have renter’s insurance. She said the depth of what the family lost is hard to comprehend.
“The kids have no toys,” she said. “We don’t have any body wash. All our medicine burned up. I’m going to have to call the pharmacy. I have no I.D., no driver’s license, no Social Security cards, no birth certificates. I don’t have any shoes.”
Rick Zaccardelli, Havelock fire chief, said the fire started about 10:30 p.m. when a child playing with a lighter set some bed linens on fire in a bedroom. The flames quickly spread into the attic of the home. He said when firefighters arrived, flames were coming through the roof.
“We had it under control in about 20 minutes with the help of Cherry Point,” Zaccardelli said. “The guys did a good job of getting it under control. Thank God no one was hurt.”
Zaccardelli is hoping to get the family help through the Red Cross.
Anyone wishing to help the family directly can call Holden at 252-772-3615.
After the fire, Holden, who is 21 weeks pregnant, and her family spent the night in a one-bedroom apartment belonging to her grandmother. She said trying to sleep proved difficult.
“I closed my eyes, and all I could see was orange,” she said.