Neighbors Help Save Equipment in Herrick Barn Fire
Editor Note: Chris Poost’s description of the fire scene last Saturday at the Hepp Farm in Herrick Township was gleaned from an email he sent to the Rocket-Courier. It was Poost who spotted the fire, called 911 and then rushed to the scene with his son and a neighbor where they attempted to move equipment to safety.
By David Keeler
Herrick Township resident Chris Poost said he was sitting with his mom last Saturday evening on her back porch when he noticed smoke coming from near his neighbors’ Jim and Donna Hepps’ barn. “I thought maybe Jim was burning some junk,” Poost said. But then he remembered that Saturday evenings are when Jim and Donna go square dancing.
Another neighbor, Judder Jones, was baling hay on Poost’s property and he noticed the smoke, too. It was Poost’s son Stefan who came “racing up the hill and confirmed the fire.” Chris called 911. Meanwhile, Jones headed for the Hepp farm and started moving equipment out of a nearby shed that appeared to be in harm’s way. Poost said he and Stefan headed to the fire scene on their tractor.
“I put down my camera and started helping Judder with the haybine,” Poost continued. “The barn was already lost and the equipment shed was starting to burn. Stefan was running into the shed and grabbing anything that was movable.”
Poost said that two Herrick firefighters were the first on the scene and he credits them with saving the equipment shed. “Judder Jones was beating his heart out getting the equipment out,” Poost said.
He described the scene as “heartbreaking.” As he looked around the fire scene, he wondered if anyone had been able to contact the Hepps yet. “It could have been much uglier,” Poost said, “except that the Hepps sold their cows last year.”
Poost said this was the first time he has been close to a fire. “It was unexpected, weird, but very real and tragic. I loved that barn,” Poost continued, “and have put a lot of work into it for the Hepps. Jim and I built the shed and it is ironic that I had a nice extension ladder still lying in the corn crib in the part that got burned.”
Donna Hepp said she and her husband were square dancing near Tunkhannock when they received a call from their friend Marty Coates with the bad news. By the time they got home, their barn was gone. She said deeds indicate the barn dated back to the 1850’s. Jim Hepp’s father purchased the farm in October 1958. She said a haybine on the second floor was destroyed and some other equipment and hay as well. She said the good news in this tragedy was that no animals were lost and no firefighters were injured.
Ironically, Jim and Donna Hepp were considering purchasing more cows. “We had been talking about starting up again in the fall,” Donna said. “I doubt that will happen now. I doubt that we’ll rebuild.”
Herrick Township firefighters were called out at 6:18 p.m. and found the barn fully involved when they arrived at the scene along Polletty Road. Herrickville called for a full response from LeRaysville, Wyalusing and Wysox to assist at the scene. HOPS ambulance also responded to the scene.
An investigation by Herrick Fire Chief Glenn Camp, Jr. and a State Police Fire Marshal was unable to determine the cause of the fire.