By Mark Carpenter
“When the call came, they were at the site within five minutes.” Those were the thoughts of Adams County sheriff Kimmy Rogers describing the actions of Sheriff’s deputies Michael Mills and Richard Phillips in the wee hours of the morning on Monday when they responded to a structure fire in the 5100 Block of State Route 247 in Seaman.
The call came through at about 2 a.m during an ice and snow storm of a fire at the home of Elford and Maggie Hoff and luckily, the deputies were in the office to hear it. Mills hopped into the Sheriff Department’s Humvee, a gift from the military, while Phillips jumped into his own four-wheel drive vehicle. The two sped to the scene where Mills maneuvered the Humvee over a bridge that crossed the creek to the home and stopped within feet of the burning structure.
“We got that Humvee for situations just like this, where no other vehicles may be able to travel,” said Sheriff Rogers.
Knowing that Mr. Hoff was disabled and still in the home, Mills and Phillips ventured into the house, found Hoff, and drug him, mattress and all, out of the house to safety after his wife was physically unable to get her husband out of the home.
“They went above and beyond the call of duty,” said Sheriff Rogers.
Fire trucks were not even able to make their way across the bridge and there were no fire hydrants available, so hoses were pulled across from the tankers and nearly 60,000 gallons of water ended up being pumped to the blaze, but the home was a total loss.
Besides the husband and wife surviving the blaze, there were other survivors not reported by other media outlets, but just as important to the family. Their dog Tigger escaped the blaze and by stroke of luck so did their pet goat, Mayhem. The goat was housed in a shed very close to the house and very close to the flames. Firefighter Todd Holt searched the shed and eventually found the goat where with the aid of Mills and fellow firefighter Chrissy Patrick, the goat was first tied to an electric pole in a safe place, then later moved to a barn far from the raging fire.
Another item very valuable to Mrs. Hoff was saved by her personally, the Liberty Band drum. When asked why she thought she needed to get the drum, Mrs. Hoff said, “Well, it was the only thing that belonged to someone else.” Mrs. Hoff was one of the organizers of the Liberty Cornet Band.
The cause of the fire is still undetermined and under investigation.
A benefit concert for the family is being planned for April 17 from 7-9 p.m. at West Union High School. To join the lineup of performers at the benefit or just to donate to help the Hoffs, please contact Jessica Huxmann at 937-217-1622.