Two days after fire claimed his parents’ South Canaan home, Frank P. Millen talked about the community’s caring response — and the 16 fire companies that fought the blaze.




Family members were attending the burial service of his grandfather Joseph Millen on Saturday morning, when fire ripped through their 150-plus year-old farmhouse on Robinson Road.

Frank says his parents, retired Western Wayne School teachers, Frank L. and Patricia Millen, along with his grandmother, Ruth Millen, lived on the family dairy farm.   

 


Two days after fire claimed his parents’ South Canaan home, Frank P. Millen talked about the community’s caring response — and the 16 fire companies that fought the blaze.

 

Family members were attending the burial service of his grandfather Joseph Millen on Saturday morning, when fire ripped through their 150-plus year-old farmhouse on Robinson Road.
Frank says his parents, retired Western Wayne School teachers, Frank L. and Patricia Millen, along with his grandmother, Ruth Millen, lived on the family dairy farm.  

 


He’s grateful no one was hurt. With nearly a dozen relatives in from out of town staying at the house, Frank says things could have been much worse had the fire happened at night when they were all asleep.

 

Frank, who lives down the road from his parents’ place, was alerted to the fire by Matt Strackbein, who works for his dad. He says they ran for the barn and the fire extinguishers.

 

Though he tried to make his way into the home through the basement, Frank says the heat was just too much. “You couldn’t get in. It was just taking off,” he said.

 

Deputy Chief Shawn Vinton, of the Waymart Volunteer Fire Department, said they were toned out at 10:29 a.m. “The whole second-story was filled with smoke ...Smoke was coming out every window,” Vinton said.

 

Sixteen fire companies from Wayne and Lackawanna counties responded, with about 50 to 100 personnel on scene, Vinton said. He said it took about an hour to get the blaze under control, and that they remained for about five hours.

 

Honesdale Fire Chief Stan Pratt estimates they used about 200,000 gallons of water to extinguish the blaze.

 

Total loss
A 10-year firefighter, Vinton said he feels for the family. “It’s got to be tough. One loss and then another one right after it,” he said.

 

“It’s standing, but it’s a total loss,” Frank’s father said in a phone call, Monday. “I grew up in that house. I think half of the neighborhood did, too,” he said, recalling playing their version of baseball — plastic Tupperware cups and sticks — out in the yard. 

 

Though it’s tough, he was back out milking the cows later Saturday night and every day since.
The work won’t wait, Frank’s dad said. “You deal with it,” he said, before quietly admitting he’s “lost it” a few times since Saturday. A second generation farmer, Frank’s dad and his siblings grew up on the farm, bought by their father in 1947.

 

Though they lost just about everything, Frank’s dad said they were able to recover his sister-in-law’s purse with important papers and her passport, so she could continue on to Holland. They were also able to recover his mom’s purse and his brother-in-law’s work planner. Other than that, they have only the clothes on their back, he said. 

 


Asked if he plans to rebuild, Frank’s dad said they’ll see if they can put a modular on their foundation, but that he’s done building homes from the ground up.

 

Frank said his parents are staying with him for the time being. In the process of putting an addition on his home, Frank said about two dozen neighbors have stopped by since Saturday to help complete the construction, so his parents will be comfortable in their temporary living quarters.

 

A thankful family
To the firefighters who worked so hard to try and save their home, Frank’s dad said, “We appreciate them.” 

 
“They did a good job,“ Frank said, “I know a bunch of them on the fire department. I know they did their best. I thank all of them for coming up.”