NORRIDGEWOCK — Pandora Parlin just knew Santa Claus would find her, even after she had to spend Christmas Eve at her grandmother’s house because fire had destroyed her own home.

The 9-year-old even got a hand-written note from Santa, telling her not to worry about not having left him any milk and cookies this year as he made the rounds for Christmas.

He told her to keep loving; that things would get better.

“Dear Pandora and Persephone,” Santa wrote to her and her 3-month-old sister. “You both have been good girls this year. I know that it has been a tough Christmas, but please don’t fret. These things always work out in the end. Just keep hoping for the best and something good will happen.

“Love each other and be good for your mom and dad. Sincerely, Santa Claus.”

Pandora’s mom, Jessica Parlin, 28, and her dad Damion Parlin, 27, lost all of their belongings in a smoky fire Christmas Eve Day at their home on Airport Road in Norridgewock. The family of four lived in an apartment above a garage where Damion’s grandfather, Dennis Chapman, 65, had been working Monday morning.

“I was cutting a piece of metal on the vise and it evidently caught something — that’s what happened,” Chapman said from the scene on Monday. Chapman lost 50 years of heritage tools and a pickup truck in the blaze.

Contacted on Wednesday, Norridgewock Fire Chief David Jones confirmed that the fire appears to have started where Chapman said he was working Monday morning.

The Parlins had been in Rhode Island for an early Christmas visit with some of Jessica’s family on Monday when they got the call about the fire. They sped home to find smoke and water damage had ruined all of their clothing and appliances, along with a large collection of vintage video games and rare Japanese comic books.

“It’s a whole life that’s gone, really,” Jessica Wednesday said from the couch at her mother, Sharon Forsman’s house on Skowhegan Road in Norridgewock. “It’s hard, but my mom’s been very helpful.”

Jessica Parlin is a manager at the MacDonald’s restaurant in Skowhegan, where she said fellow employees also helped out with clothing, toys and gifts. Damion said he stays home to take care of their 3-month-old daughter.

“My 3-month-old daughter’s first Christmas — that would be this year,” he said. “Everything literally went up in smoke.”

Pandora, who loves staying at her grandmother’s house, said she had a good Christmas, despite the sad loss of the fire.

“I got a Pac Man,” she said. “And a trampoline. Right now we’re living here. Santa gave me a note. He visits everyone’s house.”

Damion said he has taken the shock of losing so much a little harder than Pandora did.

“I mean, I’m glad that I was here with my family,” he said from the couch that he, his wife Jessica, and little Persephone have to share at night for the time being. “I’m glad that everybody’s okay.”

Jessica said they have been contacted by the American Red Cross of Maine for financial assistant and that a friend, Casey Rowell, has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help replace what has been lost.

“For Persephone’s first Christmas, her family is homeless and the family’s cats are missing,” the appeal reads. “I would like to help get them back on their feet. This isn’t the Christmas they wanted to give their babies, or the way they wanted to start a new year.”

The Parlins said they were preparing to return to their home Wednesday to see what they could salvage. Everything, right down to Persephone’s crib, was ruined in the fire.

“There was a lot of smoke damage — everything is black, brown and yellow — everything has been touched by the smoke,” the couple said.

Damion Parlin said his grandfather was insured and told him to make up a list of items lost in the fire to see if any of it is covered.

“We’re going to go through our stuff to see what we can salvage and take it from there, day by day,” Damion Parlin said.

In a Facebook post, Jessica Parlin said she was worried about their two cats, Julius and Onyx.

“They were not found in the apartment and it is believed they escaped,” she wrote on Christmas Eve. “I’m worried that they may have breathed in too much smoke. I am very worried. I don’t want to tell my children their cats are gone forever on Christmas Eve. This is the one Christmas miracle I’m asking for! If you see them please get a hold of me! Also, they are both very shy! Please don’t chase them but have them come to you!”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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