DAMASCUS TWP. - Wayne County Commissioner Brian Smith expressed thanks for the outpouring of community support in the wake of a fire that destroyed his family's dairy barn, killing livestock.
"It was overwhelming," an emotional Smith said Tuesday, two days after the fire at his farm on Calkins Road. "(The support) was just unbelievable. ... I just want to thank everyone. We really live in a great community."
No one was injured in the fire, but 11 calves and a family dog were killed.
The cause of the blaze is undetermined due to the extensive amount of damage, but is not considered suspicious, said state Trooper Sandra Van Luvender of the Fire Marshal Unit in Dunmore.
It appeared to have started in an upstairs part of the barn, said Beach Lake Volunteer Fire Company Chief Tony Franklin.
Smith said he's hoping to rebuild and was scheduled to meet with an insurance adjuster.
The fire company responded at about 9:40 a.m. Sunday and were at the scene for about three to four hours.
Smith wasn't home when the fire started.
The commissioner said he was driving home when he noticed smoke in the distance. He realized, the closer he got, that the fire was on his property.
Smith raced to the barn not knowing if anyone was home.
"It was really a horrifying experience and I thank God no one was hurt," Smith said.
Smith expressed deep thanks to neighbors, strangers and emergency personnel who offered assistance.
As fire crews worked at the scene, dozens of neighbors stopped by to help move the surviving livestock.
Other neighbors brought food or made phone calls.
Smith also commended the fire companies, PPL Electric Utilities and police that responded to the scene and did a "fantastic" job.
Franklin said the community support was "pretty amazing."
At least eight or nine trucks were on scene to help move the livestock.
Franklin said when a barn burns down "people come out of the woodwork" to help.
"It's amazing," said the fire chief.
Franklin also commended the Wayne County Communications Center, which had to dispatch firefighters to a simultaneous blaze in Paupack Township.
Over 100 firefighters from two states responded to the Calkins Road blaze, Franklin said.
They came from Beach Lake, Equinunk and White Mills in Pennsylvania and Welcome Lake, Lake Huntington, Callicoon, Narrowsburg and Hortonville in New York.
In a Facebook post Franklin wrote, "Our thoughts are with Brian, Amy and the entire Smith family in regards to the loss of their dairy barn to fire."
Franklin also thanked firefighters and Damascus Ambulance for their "excellent" response, as well as friends and local farmers who came to aid.