Eric Frein in Custody

Dairy Farmer Grateful Despite Loss Of Barn

A fire that destroyed a barn on a Luzerne County dairy farm Thursday night left behind so much damage, a state police fire marshal said a cause will never be known.

Despite losing his barn, the dairy farmer said he’s grateful to all who helped.

Mark Verbyla said with the help of two neighbors he was able to get all of his livestock out of the barn.

He thanks all the volunteer fire fighters who worked through the night to get the fire under control.

“The barn was just fully engulfed. I mean it was just an inferno,” said Verbyla.

Verbyla surveys what’s left of his barn at his dairy farm in Sweet Valley.

Hours after a fire brought the barn down, the piles of hay are still smoking.

The fire broke out inside the barn at Verbeyla Brothers Farm just before eight Thursday night.

Verbyla had just gone inside his house after working on the farm when he noticed the flames.

“I stood up to go to the refrigeration and I looked out the window and I said ‘oh my god, the barn’s on fire’ and this happened in a matter of ten minutes,” said Verbyla.

Verbyla immediately thought of the 32 young heifers inside the barn and ran to free them.

He said with the help of two other men all the cows got out safely.

“I never met the one man, he lives at the end of our road and the other one was my neighbor, Tony Sayr. So I was lucky they were here,” said Verbyla. “I think if I was another minute later I would have lost everything in there because the fire was coming out of the ceiling, it was that bad.”

The one thing Verbyla did lose is most of his hay stock, which he needed to last until springtime.

The burning hay bales made it even more difficult for the fire fighters to put out the blaze.

Verbyla said twelve volunteer fire companies responded and he’s amazed at how hard they worked.

“They did a great job but with all the hay, we had to bring an excavator in to tear the hay apart and then we were really able to get control of the fire after that,” said Verbyla. “But they used 187,000 gallons of water on that fire. It was amazing how much water was used. I really appreciated the fire companies, they did an outstanding job.”

The barn is now a total loss.

A state police fire marshal said there’s too much damage to determine a cause.

Still Verbyla said he had insurance and he’s just grateful for those who risked their lives helping him.

“We probably people here, we had a lot of support.”

Verbyla said he will re-build the barn.

Currently those 32 cows are being kept at Verbyla’s other farm in Benton.

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