Originally published in the Manchester Journal Nov. 30, 2017. 

MANCHESTER — As smoke began to billow from the barn just feet from his home, Edward Merrow knew that he had to act fast.

After 47 years as a volunteer firefighter with the Danby-Mt. Tabor Fire Department, the now-retired Merrow realized that the fire could spread quickly to an adjacent shed, or to their nearby home. Though Merrow first reached for his hose, he found that it was still frozen from the morning frost.

“I started bringing buckets full of water over,” he explained. “It just wasn’t fast enough. If it wasn’t for that hose we may have been able to save the shed.”

Merrow says that dried leaves surrounding the structure provided extra fodder for the blaze, which grew quickly. With the barn’s tin roof capturing the heat, nearly everything inside was incinerated. According to Merrow, the space was primarily used to store supplies for sugaring their maple trees in the springtime in what he describes as “an expensive hobby.”

The barn also housed a number of signs advertising their syrup, appropriately shaped as maple leaves. Locals may recognize those signs as fixtures along Route 7A in Danby, Mt. Tabor, and East Dorset during sugaring season.

“Everything that was lost can be replaced,” said Edward’s wife Gloria Merrow. “We’re thankful that no one was hurt.”

Luckily, help arrived quickly to the Merrow’s home on South End Road in Mt. Tabor.

“We were able to get the fire knocked down in the first half hour or so,” said Fire Chief Ken Abbott of the Danby-Mt. Tabor Fire Department. “We had the East Dorset Fire Department respond alongside us, and the Wallingford Fire Department was on standby.”

No injuries were sustained as a result of the fire, which began just before noon on Thursday, and the responding fire departments were able to contain the blaze before it spread to other structures.

Reach Cherise Madigan at cmadigan@manchesterjournal.com, or by phone at 802-490-6471.

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