San Jose woman hopes to rebuild after fire destroyed family home of 40 years

It’s been nearly a week since three homes in East San Jose caught fire, two of them destroyed. Now one of the homeowners is talking about losing her family home of 40 years.

Heather Turner says she and her family moved to the home on Sand Point Drive in June 1984. She says she never thought she’d lose it in a fire but hopes she can build there again. 

Turner says she was home alone when her house caught on fire late Sunday afternoon.

"It’s tough because this was my childhood home," said Turner. 

She says she saw fire in the side yard, heard glass breaking and then left the house. She took a photo of the fire just after escaping and calling 9-1-1. Turner says she relied on her safety training as a long-time educator.

"We do fire drills once a month for the whole year. The kids always try to grab their backpacks. I always say so nope, leave your backpacks, leave your stuff. Stuff is stuff, we got to get out, and we have to practice being safe. That’s how I felt walking out of here," said Turner. 

Turner says she lost four cats and her car in the fire. She’s now staying with her sister and going through the insurance claims process. Two other homes on Sand Point Drive also caught fire, leaving some residents displaced. The San Jose Fire Dept. enclosed the fire-damaged homes with a gate and says no new information is available in their investigation.  

"I hear that it’s going to be a total loss," said Turner. 

Still, Turner says she was surprised to see the front porch tower and yard deck her father built somehow survived. She also says there's just one thing she hopes to recover from her home: her mother’s ashes. 

"When my mom got sick and passed, she actually passed here on hospice. So, it’s a special spot. When my dad was done and said he needed to move on, I decided to buy it. I wasn’t ready to let it go yet," said Turner. 

Turner thinks her mom’s urn may have survived because of where it was placed in the house. 

A group at Frost Elementary where she works started a GoFundMe campaign to help her.