Citizen spots fire, saves barn

DAYTON – If you drive the same route daily – as Leon resident Frank Gugino does – you may notice when something is amiss.

Gugino, who drives Route 62 to and from work, witnessed smoke billowing from a barn while driving home in early April and thought something was not right.

“I saw smoke coming out of the barn and I didn’t give it much thought because there are a lot of sugar shacks going. When I went past the farm, I don’t know why, but I glanced back a bit, and I saw flames in the barn window,” Gugino recalled. “I was going to mind my own business, but something told me I should go back.”

Gugino turned around and went back to the house to find a barn engulfed in flames. Gugino was yelling on the property, waving his arms and knocking on doors to get the attention of any residents. He was finally able to get the attention of the barn’s owner, Daniel Gabel, who came running outside while Gugino called 911.

Awaiting the fire department’s arrival, Gugino – who used to be a volunteer firefighter – and Gabel pulled equipment from the barn. The pair dragged a tractor and a diesel fuel tank away from the blaze, saving them from the flames.

Due to Gugino’s quick actions, the damage was limited to the barn with minor damage to three nearby buildings. Gugino was sympathetic to life on a farm.

“I grew up on a farm and we had a barn fire. I know what’s it like. When I was younger, our barn caught on fire. That’s what my parents did, started dragging things out until the fire department got there to put (the fire) out,” Gugino said.

The fire destroyed the barn roof and melted the vinyl siding off the other buildings.

The damage is estimated to be between $7,000 and $8,000, Gabel said adding he is unsure if he will demolish or rebuild the buildings.

“When I went by on my way to work the next day, I saw the building. It’s charred a bit but it’s still standing,” Gugino said.

Gabel’s farm is family run and has been since 1938. The farm still has cattle but all livestock were located in a different building. He is grateful and thankful for Gugino’s good deed. Gabel said neither the buildings or the equipment were not covered by insurance.

“If it would’ve been another 10 minutes, we would’ve lost a lot more buildings. We were very fortunate,” said Gabel. “It was nothing that we would have recovered. If it wouldn’t been for (Gugino), our losses would have been more.”

The fire was caused by a maple syrup evaporator. Gabel said the family has not made maple syrup in a few years but decided to produce this year. He put wood on a fire in the evaporator, but a pipe was not high enough.

“Of course the stove pipe wasn’t high enough so that it caught the end of the building on fire. (The pipe) should have been above the roof,” Gabel said.

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