The community came out to offer support to a Shenandoah County family who lost their home and pets in a fire on Thanksgiving.
A GoFundMe campaign on behalf of Adam and Julie Miller raised more than $27,500 by Monday afternoon, exceeding the $15,000 goal, according to information posted by organizer Kent Folsom on the online fundraising site gofundme.com. The Woodstock Rescue Squad also set up a relief effort for the family.
Adam and Julie Miller are longtime members of volunteer fire and rescue departments in the county. Adam Miller volunteers with the Conicville Fire and Rescue. Shenandoah County Fire Marshal David Ferguson called it humbling to see the community coming out to help the Millers.
“Adam and Julie are always the ones out responding and helping everybody else in need,” Ferguson said by phone Monday. “So, with this incident, obviously the community has come together really strong and support them now instead of them in return usually supporting the community.”
The Millers had working smoke detectors in their home at the time of the fire, Ferguson said.
“It can’t go unnoticed that their smoke detectors did operate,” Ferguson said, “However, we go into numerous homes throughout the year that do not have smoke detectors and can’t stress enough how important it is to ensure that you have smoke detectors and that they work properly inside your house.”
Emergency dispatchers received a call at 4:54 p.m. Thursday from one of the residents who reported a fire in Miller’s home in the 100 block of Grover Road near Edinburg. Ferguson said three of the four people who live in the residence were in the home at the time of the incident. The fire started as the family prepared for Thanksgiving dinner, Ferguson said. One of the Miller’s children went downstairs and saw the fire and alerted the parents. Adam Miller went downstairs, saw the fire and, when he determined he could not extinguish the flames, led everyone out of the house, Ferguson said.
Adam Miller suffered some minor burns when he went in the house to try and rescue the dogs, Ferguson said. The dogs did not come out of the house and died in the fire, he said.
Workers with a local chapter of the American Red Cross came to help the Millers and find the family temporary housing.
The investigation into the cause of the accidental fire points to an electrical problem, Ferguson said.
“All points lead to that as being the culprit,” Ferguson said, “However, it’s unclear if it was the device cord or the extension cord but it was electrical in nature is how I would put that.”
The incident also should serve as a warning that, when using extension cords, to make sure the devices do not overload the electrical circuits, Ferguson said. Fire officials warn against long-time, permanent use of extension cords. Fire officials recommend using surge protectors instead, Ferguson said.
The homeowners had insurance. A person on the scene after the fire who estimated the cost of the damage deemed the house a total loss, Ferguson said. Fire crews later needed to tear down the remains of the house to fully put out the flames so as to not endanger nearby homes, Ferguson said.
Crews from volunteer departments in Woodstock, Edinburg and Conicville assisted the county agency. Woodstock Rescue Squad also helped the family.
The Food Lion grocery store and the McDonald’s restaurant in Woodstock provided food for the emergency responders at the scene.