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Family dogs credited with saving couple
MILTON TOWNSHIP- Lloyd and Sue Billings woke up to their dogs making quite a raucous around 4 a.m. last Thursday, just before Sue heard what sounded like a light bulb blowing.
“If it weren’t for our dogs,” noted Sue. “I really don’t think we would have made it out.”
The family farm that was built in the early 1800’s and was home and business to Lloyd, Sue, and their fourteen-year-old daughter Emily, went up in flames due to an electrical issue.
“It’s crazy what goes through your mind,” noted Sue. I ran to my daughter’s room, the wall was blazing orange and she wasn’t there. I had forgotten that she was at a friend’s house. Thank God she wasn’t home. Her room was the first to go.”
Lloyd and Sue made their way to the attached barn to save their livestock, which consisted of pigs, two steers, sheep, chickens, rabbits, two horses and Emily’s 4-H goats. They pushed the animals towards the doors as fast as they could in hopes they would get outside.
“It went up in a flash,” stated Sue. “It felt like an eternity before the fire department got here. I think it was about 10 or 15 minutes and it was gone.”
Not knowing where their animals were or how many actually made it out, Lloyd and Sue could only stand back and watch the fire departments from surrounding towns extinguish the flames that ravaged their house, barn and a small building across the road.
With 1600 bales of fresh hay inside the barn, the remains continued to smolder.
When there was nothing left but ashes, the couple began to take stock of what they had left. They realized then that they had lost the two show goats, sheep, chickens, pigs, a steer and rabbits. One steer was in the woods, but was so scared it wouldn’t come close, a pig found its’ way near a fence on the property and bedded down, a chicken was running around and their two horses and trusty terriers were with neighbors.
It wasn’t until later, that Sue realized she had burnt the bottoms of her feet trying to free the animals. “I didn’t have time to get shoes. I didn’t even know they were burnt until a guy from the fire department brought me ice packs and told me to put them on my feet.”
On Thursday night, Sue stated, “We’re so grateful to have friends and family around. My sister-in-law brought clothes over. We’ve been given dog food and grain. We’ll stay in our fair camper tonight.”
The family has to wait for hot spots to distinguish before they can begin to clean up. In the meantime, they are gathering estimates from contractors, and accepting any donations of animal feed, shelter and clothing they can get.
The home was fully-insured and they do plan to rebuild. “My husband and daughter already have it all worked out,” noted a sleepy Sue on Friday morning. “But, this time, we won’t have the barn attached to the house and it will have a wider entry way. I can’t tell you what I had to jump over in that nightmare of trying to get the animals out.”
Now, the Billings’ have to go through the tedious work of putting a value on all they lost, from beds, sinks and stoves, down to their silverware, plates and pictures.
“What price do you put on memories and keepsakes,” noted Sue, who also lost her father’s urn in the fire.
If you have items you wish to donate to the Billings family, please drop them by their farm stand on Route 2 across from Maine Made Furniture or call Sue at 357-3833.