Friends flock to help Amish farmer rebuild after fire

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 January 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers
RIDGEWAY – Tuesday morning Marcus Miller stood and watched his milking parlor go up in smoke and flames. Miller, 34, milked 45 cows in the parlor.

He had built the milking parlor only two years ago on Fruit Avenue.

“It was discouraging for him to watch the barn burn, a helpless feeling,” Miller’s brother-in-law Mark Miller said this morning at the farm.

Many of Miller’s neighbors, including Orleans County Legislature Chairman David Callard, have been shocked to see the quick turnaround at the site.

The burned up milking parlor building has been cleared from the site and the framework for a new building, the same size at 42 by 70 feet, is already taking shape.

About 20 Amish men in the Yates and Ridgeway community have been at the site soon after the fire was under control on Tuesday morning. A group of Mennonites are expected to help on Thursday, and Marcus Miller said about a dozen men are expected Friday and Saturday from Holmes County, Ohio. Miller lived there before moving to Ridgeway three years ago. He is married with two young children.

“I didn’t know how many friends I had,” Miller said this morning, while a group of local Amish worked on the building. Two men had already arrived from Holmes County. “God bless everyone who has been here to help.”

On Tuesday, firefighters were putting out a blaze and venting smoke from a milking parlor at Marcus Miller’s dairy farm. About 24 hours later, in a photo looking at the same spot, the debris had been removed and a new building was already taking shape.

Miller thanked the many volunteer firefighters who contained the fire to the milking parlor, sparing neighboring structures. The firefighters responded to the scene with temperatures at 14 degrees.

It’s colder today with temperatures at the farm at 9 degrees this morning. The wind chill made it feel much colder.

“Everybody has been great around here,” Miller said. “I appreciate the Fire Department and the neighbors. I’m truly blessed to be living in a community like this.”

Miller said the new building could be enclosed by Saturday. Then he will work to have a new milking system in place. He hopes to be milking cows again at the site in about three weeks. Right now, a neighbor is milking Miller’s cows.

His brother-in-law is among the group that responded to the building project. Mark Miller said word quickly spread through the Amish community that there had been a fire at a building that wasn’t insured.

“There’s no sense waiting around,” Mark Miller said. “It’s our Christian duty to do it. It’s one way to show we care. It’s the least we can do for each other.”