Family bouncing back after devastating Christmas fire
A MIDDLEMOUNT family who lost everything in a devastating house fire just a week before Christmas has reached out to thank the people who came to the rescue in their hour of need.
Candice and John Baxter and their eight-year-old son Cayden were at home on December 16, having just begun their holidays, when they heard a loud bang come from the patio.
"Cayden saw it first and came running down the hallway screaming 'fire'," John said.
"My initial thought was to grab the garden house and try to put the fire out, but it all happened in a matter of minutes. By the time I got to the hose, it was too late."
The family, originally from South Africa, were left standing in their pyjamas and Cayden with his Xbox remote control in his hand as they watched their house burn to the ground.
"We had just got outside when John saw the curtain rustle in the lounge room and we realised we didn't have the cat, so John ran up and smashed the window to save the last member of our family," Candice said.
"Cayden is our little hero - we're very proud of him."
Candice said local police had attributed the fire to an electrical fault.
John, an underground operator with Anglo American Grasstree, said the company that organises the mining company's housing, Spotless, provided the family with another house by that night.
By the next day, donations had started to flow in from throughout the Central Queensland community, including from Emerald mother of two Pam Bartlett-Munt, who organised about a truckload of donations. While the donations have been enough to fill their new home with basics and put clothes on their backs, Candice said it was the little things they lost that hurt the most.
"The first time Cayden wrote his name was framed on our bedroom wall and now it's gone, all of our photos - it feels like the last eight years of my son's life never happened," she said.
Despite the heartache, Candice said the support of close friends and family ensured their Christmas was one they would never forget.
"It was the most beautiful day," she said. "My mum and dad came over from Emerald, we opened presents and listened to music. For a day it felt like none of this happened."