Fire damage is seen at the Sanford home of local police Detective Colleen Adams, whose whose family was displaced and pets killed in the recent blaze. Credit: CBS 13

SANFORD, Maine — As first a police officer and now a detective, Colleen Adams for years has been there for the people of Sanford in their times of need. Now the people of Sanford — as well as others well beyond the borders of the city — are there for Detective Adams in her time of need.

Adams and her two daughters, ages 4 and 6, lost their home and pets in a fire on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 6, according to Detective Sgt. Matthew Jones, of the Sanford Police Department. Jones described the home, located off Ossipee Hill Road in Waterboro, as a total loss — the kitchen floor collapsed into the basement and the blaze caused “pretty heavy damage” elsewhere throughout the structure.

Adams and her daughters stayed with family for three days. By Sunday, Dec. 9, however, they had a new home, thanks to her colleagues in the Sanford Police Department, her fellow municipal employees throughout the city of Sanford, and so many others who were moved to action by her devastating loss. These colleagues, volunteers and donors found a farmhouse for lease in Sanford, and Adams and her girls were able to move into it by Sunday evening.

Members of the local police and fire departments went to the new home on Sunday and painted walls, hung curtains and put up a Christmas tree — the “whole shebang,” according to Jones, who described the day as a “housewarming party” for the displaced family. Numerous city employees helped, as well, as did a firefighter from Waterboro.

“By the time we left, we wanted the kids to feel like that was their home,” Jones said. “The mission was accomplished.”

The farmhouse is on a large plot of land that includes a fishing pond. Adams and her daughters enjoy outdoor activities, so someone donated pairs of snowshoes to them. The farmhouse’s landlord has assured the family he will handle the snowplowing.

“We just knew we had a gem,” Jones said of that moment he and others located the family’s new home. “It’s a perfect location for Colleen and her kids and what they love to do.”

Thanks to donors, the two months of rent have been paid for the family. And thanks to a GoFundMe account established by Sanford Public Safety Dispatcher Megan Welch, a friend of Adams, the family will not have to worry about their monthly rent for quite some time.

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Jones said that donations and support have come Adams’s way from well beyond the Greater Sanford Area. In fact, from as far away as other states along the East Coast. According to Jones, Adams even received such gifts as bedsheets, pillows and Christmas books from The Chief Michael Maloney Memorial Fund, a nonprofit organization established in honor of Maloney, the police chief who was killed in the line of duty in Greenland, New Hampshire, several years ago.

“That just warms my heart,” Jones said.

And Adams’s too.

“She’s extremely gracious for the outpouring,” Jones said.

Jones said that the family no longer needs donations of any sort, noting that the girls now “have enough toys for 10 Christmases at this point,” and adding that the GoFundMe account has raised enough. Jones encouraged those who wish to donate funds or gifts or materials to redirect them to others in need this holiday season.

“She’s in a very good place now,” Jones said of Adams.

[Sanford cops bring gifts to high-call neighborhood: ‘We want to be remembered for a better reason’]

Adams has been with the Sanford Police Department for nine years. She became a detective in January. Before reporting to Sanford, she served in the police departments of Dover and Exeter, New Hampshire, respectively.

Jones said that members of law enforcement are a tight-knit family, adding that “it’s tough to beat the bond we have.” He referred to an even larger community, that of Sanford, as an example of another family to which Adams belongs, which explains the overwhelming love and support that she and her daughters have received since their tragedy just a short week ago.

“This shows Colleen’s impact on the community,” Jones said. “She has helped others. That’s why there has been such a warm response.”