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Amish family starts to rebuild house

December 24, 2006|by DON AINES

SHIPPENSBURG, PA. - The bumper sticker on the Amish buggy read "Born to Ride - Forced to go to work," but dozens of Amish and other neighbors and friends voluntarily were lending a hand to rebuild a Lurgan Township, Pa., home that was destroyed by fire Wednesday.

The still smoldering ashes and rubble of David Blank's home had been pushed to the side, and bearded men armed with tool belts and nail guns were starting to frame the second floor of the house on Friday before noon. The men worked diligently through a heavy drizzle.

David Blank, 70, of 7026 McClays Mill Road, said he was home alone Wednesday in the large double house he and his wife, Mary, share with his son Joseph's family when he heard a loud crash and smelled smoke. He said the fire probably was caused by a gas leak.

"It knocked out the door between the two houses and blew out the windows," said Blank, sitting inside a shed next to the house. Slowed by a stroke, Blank said he has worked in construction, and has had many opportunities over the years to help others who have lost homes and barns to fire.

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"They would know how we feel about it," Blank said of the helping hand his family was receiving. "They know we needed help."

Blank said more help likely will be coming in a few days from relatives in Lancaster County, Pa.

"I expect they'll be coming in by the busload after the holidays," he said.

Several publicity-shy Amish declined to speak about why they came to help. One woman said she had to hurry to get lunch ready.

"This helping. It's just the right thing to do," said Daniel Redcay of Newville, Pa., who works for Joseph Blank's brother, Amos. "They're good people, and they've helped me out before."

"We were here 'til midnight the day it happened," Redcay, who is not Amish, said of the army of volunteers that showed up. "There were close to 100 people here."

Early Thursday morning, men were setting up forms for the poured concrete foundation, he said.

"We're going to have it under roof by tomorrow night ... and they'll probably be living in it within a month," Redcay said.

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