Butler County, Pa., family loses barn and home to two blazes in two days


CLEARFIELD TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A Pennsylvania family is attempting to put their lives back together this week after two separate fires destroyed both their house and their barn.

Harry S. Snyder III and his wife, Deborah, lost not only the older bank barn and the converted dairy barn housing 60 hogs, but their home and belongings as well.

Two fires

The barn fire occurred April 9. The fire call came in at noon and within seven minutes, the first fire department was on the scene.

The barn was engulfed when the department arrived and it was destroyed. All that remained was the cement on the ground.

Then on April 10, another call came in at 10 p.m. to the fire departments. This time, the house was on fire. It was also destroyed. All that remains is the cement basement where the older farm house stood.

Nathan Snyder, the nephew of Harry Snyder, spoke to the Farm and Dairy. He was also a volunteer firefighter called to the scenes of both blazes.

He said the cause of the fires have not been determined, and a cause might not be able to be found because of the extent of the flames.

Nathan Snyder said they suspect the fire in the barn began on the bottom floor but what started it remains a mystery.

The fire in the house began in the basement, spread to a mattress and then to the rest of the house.

A total damage estimate has not been determined.

“The community is pulling together. It’s amazing,” Nathan Snyder said as he described what has been happening since the fires.

He said that neighbors are helping and donations of clothes and food have been greatly appreciated.

“It’s still hard though for all of us. We were all raised on the farm and to just see it disappear makes it hard,” said Snyder.

Cleanup process

He said the cleanup process has already begun but there is a lot that needs done.

Snyder said that most of the machinery and tools were destroyed in the barn blaze and all of the household items were devoured by the house fire.

Harry Snyder and his family, which includes three children, two under 18, were not injured in the fires.

Heifer barn

All that remains on the farm after the two blazes is a heifer barn and a home that belongs to Harry’s mother.


Harry Snyder is convinced he will rebuild, and still has beef and dairy heifers that he raises for replacements in the barn that was not destroyed. He also raises turkeys, ducks and chickens.

In addition, Snyder has a few Holsteins he is hand milking for his use. The milking equipment was destroyed. The Holsteins were in the heifer barn when the blaze began.


Nathan Snyder said what the family needs right now is household and farm items so they can rebuild.

A fund has been set up at any branch of S&T Bank in western Pennsylvania where donations can be made to the Snyder family. In addition, household donations can be dropped off at the Lickhill Volunteer Fire Department in Summit Township, which will be distributed to the family.

Snyder said a total of 20 fire departments fought the blazes both days and there were only minor injuries to report.


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