Media Archive

13 left homeless after Milo fire

Article from Bangor Daily News, Wednesday, March 15, 2006

By Diana Bowley
Staff Writer

MILO - Eleven children and their two parents escaped a raging fire Tuesday morning that consumed their mobile home and an addition.

The family, which has no insurance, lost their Deer Run Drive home and most of their belongings.

"Nothing else mattered but the safety of all," Nancy Metilly, 40, said Tuesday afternoon at the home of a family friend.

The house was burning on one side, enough for the two adults to know that they had to get their children out of the structure.

Pregnant with her 12th child, Metilly said that she and her husband, Gary Metilly, 39, were in a bedroom around 8 a.m. Tuesday when they heard two of their children yell to them.

"We knew from the tone of their voice something was bad," she said, sitting at the kitchen table in the home of Carolyn and Bud Dillon of Milo.

Isaiah, 19, and Hannah, 10, alerted the parents about the fire, the mother said. A family member whom she declined to name had removed a log from the fireplace because it was too big and had taken it outside. Sparks on the log apparently ignited the side of the building after it was placed outside, she said.

Gary Metilly, a driver for Three Rivers Ambulance Service and a self-employed handyman, tried to extinguish the fire with two fire extinguishers and a hose but was unsuccessful. He then shouted into a two-way radio in his vehicle to anyone who was listening that his house was on fire and he needed help.

At the same time, Nancy Metilly went through the house and herded her children outside through a back door, she said.

As the children filed out, the mother counted each of them: Isaiah, Elizabeth, 17, Jonathan, 16, Josiah, 12, Hannah, Hadassah, 7, Miriam, 5, Ribqah, 3, and Shamyah, 2.

Nancy Metilly was carrying 10-month-old Ezekiel, but she found she was one child short. Andrew, 13, was missing.

Running to the front of the house, Nancy Metilly found her son with his father.

"We just stood there and cried and prayed," the mother said, because they were so thankful everyone escaped unharmed. The couple also saved two pet beagle dogs. Four sheep, two cows and some chickens sheltered away from the family's home also survived. A cat remains unaccounted for, she said.

The father and his older sons put the children into the family's two vehicles and drove them away from the fire scene, providing room for firefighters to reach the driveway at the end of Deer Run Drive, Nancy Metilly said. The road was extremely muddy from Monday's rain, but fortunately did not hinder the firefighters.

Murrel Harris, Milo Fire Department dispatcher, was pleased with the response by his department, he said later Tuesday.

"We had a real good turnout," he said, adding that 16 Milo firefighters answered the alarm. His son, Michael Harris, who works for Milo Public Works, heard Gary Metilly's cry for help over the radio. He alerted the Fire Department and asked a co-worker to call 911.

Four or five firefighters happened to be in the fire station when the call came in, and they quickly responded to the alarm, Harris said. When firefighters arrived at the scene, the structure was in flames, he said. Dover-Foxcroft and Brownville firefighters assisted Milo firefighters.

Nancy Metilly said later that she was pleased with the firefighters' response and thanked them for their efforts.

As Carolyn Dillon fed pureed fruit to Ezekiel, perched on his mother's lap, Nancy Metilly pondered the family's next move.

"God is just going to work it all out," she said.

The children, who are taught at home by their mother, suffered personal losses as well. Andrew said he lost his banjo and new electric shears he had purchased so he could shear his small flock of sheep. Also destroyed were a guitar, three violins, a keyboard, and Jonathan's treasured oil paintings. Metilly, who sewed all of the children's garments, lost her sewing machine. The boys also lost their ham radios.

Only a few mementos, including a damaged Bible, were found in the rubble left behind.

Later Tuesday, the family went to a local thrift shop and were able to get outfitted with clothing.

The Pine Tree Chapter of the American Red Cross has provided vouchers for the family for two nights' shelter at Gunsmoke Lodge in Brownville Junction and also for food and clothing. The Red Cross will continue to work with the family to form a long-term plan, emergency services coordinator Hillary Roberts said Tuesday.

This is the 16th fire to which the Pine Tree Chapter has responded in 15 days, according to Roberts. She said the fires have really eroded the agency's funding for those in need in eastern and northern Maine.

"We really are in need of vital donations for disaster funds," she said. Donations, which will be used in the two regions, may be forwarded to Pine Tree Chapter, 33 Mildred Ave., Bangor 04401.

In addition to the Red Cross, support and help have been offered to the Milo family by the Three Rivers Kiwanis Club, the staff and pupils at Milo and Brownville elementary schools, the SAD 41 food services department, the United Methodist Church Thrift Shop in Brownville Junction, and Cheryl and Michelle Hamlin of Milo, who purchased bags of groceries and undergarments for the family.

"Thanks to everyone helping. We really, really appreciate it," Metilly said.

A fund has been established for the family at Maine Savings Credit Union on Park Street in Milo.

"Content above originated in the edition noted as a copyrighted article and is posted here with permission of the Bangor Daily News."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.