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Heart work raises barn

September 04, 2003|BY DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

ST. THOMAS, PA - Men and materials began arriving before dawn. By the time they took their lunch break, scores of men armed with tool boxes had raised the roof on a barn that was razed by fire a week before.

"Everybody had a mind to work," Arlin Martin said as men hoisted sheets of aluminum roofing onto the 47 roofing trusses they had nailed into place earlier in the morning. Martin rented the 81-year-old barn that burned down the night of Saturday, Aug. 23.

"We started pouring concrete at 6 a.m. and the rafters came at 7:30 a.m.," Martin said.

Men from Cumberland and Adams counties, and some from as far away as Lancaster County, converged on the farm of Amos Bricker at 8778 Long Lane, said John Byers, who works for Franklin Builders.

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"I didn't even take time to count them," he said. "I'll have to ask the women after lunch."

About 40 women and children arrived shortly before lunch and set out chicken, salads and sweets on four long tables in a shed near the barn. They had done the same the Monday after the fire when more than 100 people showed up to clean away the charred debris.

"Everybody here is volunteering today," Byers said.

Just before lunch, he said he expected the barn to be under roof by the end of the day. The work was getting done fast despite the rain that fell steadily in mid-morning.

"It's difficult keeping people efficient when you've got this many together," Byers said.

One could give him an argument on that point, considering how much had been accomplished in just five hours.

"There are a lot of good, devoted fellows here," Bricker said.

One of them, Sam Shaffner of Shippensburg, Pa., said he was doing "a little bit of this and a little bit of that." At the time, he was working on getting a water pipe installed through a concrete wall poured on Labor Day.

"That's what happens when everyone gets together," Dave Hufcut said. "It's hard to explain how people come out of the woodwork like this."

The night of the fire, Hufcut had come over from his neighboring farm and helped save the cows from the flaming barn, encouraging their exit with swats from a broom.

The fire left little beside a concrete slab and a damaged milking parlor. Bricker said police still had not determined the cause of the blaze, although Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal Stanford Sydnor said last week it was not considered of suspicious origin.

The day the debris was being cleared away, Bricker said the barn would be rebuilt, but it would not be the same. He said it might take a couple of months before the job got started.

"We're making it 40 feet longer," he said Wednesday. Another section of concrete foundation was poured in the morning and additional stalls were being added for more dairy cows. Martin said he intended to increase the size of his herd of about 40 animals, which now are being milked at another farm.

"The farmer said he wanted to be milking cows here four weeks from the day it burned down," Byers said. "I asked him why he wanted to wait that long."

"He should be in in three weeks," Bricker said.

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