My heart sank. I quickly called my mom and my husband texted other neighbors to see if the occupant of the house had escaped. Small sighs of relief were heard when we found out he had gotten out. However, as we watched the fire rage, we knew that the house was not going to make it.
Volunteer firefighters from Pinegrove Township, President Township, Washington Township, Seneca, Knox and Cornplanter worked diligently to knock the fire down.
Unfortunately, I believe that conditions and construction worked against them.
The home, which was built in 1900 according to Venango County records, was most likely double-boarded. This meant that fire can quickly hide in the walls and can race throughout the structure.
The volunteers also had a major winter storm to contend with as the freezing rain never stopped throughout the entire battle.
Fire vehicles and volunteer vehicles filled residents' driveways up and down the road.
I kept checking out the window, hoping that some of the home could be saved, but knowing in my heart that most of the time these old homes don't survive. I did snap some photos from my side of the fence. Better photos probably would have been taken from the front side of the house, but I did not wish to get in the firefighters' way.
Some shots with a better vantage point were taken from my attic window.
This was more than just a house, it was a homestead. According to county records, the home was purchased in 1970 by Ralph and Ester Myers. They and their family lived their while my grandparents occupied my current home. They had a large extended family and the home was used to house generations of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The current occupant Robert Myers, had worked diligently to maintain the old structure. There was a tin roof added in the past year. When I spoke to him a day after the fire, Myers said he had recently spent money to update the front door.
"This hurts," he said, as he and some of his kin tried to sift through what was left. What was left was just the tin from the roof and some still smoking timbers that filled the home's basement.
He told me he was home when the fire broke out and believed it may have been caused by a ventless heater in a bathroom.
The home was not insured and Myers lost everything in the fire.
A Go Fund me account has been set up by his daughter. Here's the link www.gofundme.com/f/5tjrb4-help-my-dad-get-a-place-to-live?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer
On Facebook Thursday night, several family members mourned the lose of their childhood home. Community members commented on how they couldn't believe what was happening and that the property held many memories.
The volunteers kept ready to spring into action in case the fall of debris got out of control. The fire burned for several hours.
Needing to get up for work the next day, I went to bed at 8 p.m. with the lights from the fire and emergency vehicles dancing across the bedroom ceiling. Reports indicated that the scene was mopped up after 10 p.m.
I was greatly reminded how much of a debt we owe to volunteer firefighters. I was grateful for those who gave up their free time and sleep to protect the community.
The incident served as a reminder that these agencies need our support. As the labor market tightens and time is at an all time premium, one wonders what would happen if no one showed up. Whether we can volunteer our time or money, we need to do it.
I need to remember when that fundraising letter comes in the mail to not set it aside, but return it with a generous donation.
That's just the nature of things 'round here.