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Barn Fire Fundraiser And Collection Launched

Published: July 12, 2019 at 10:40 am

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UPDATE  (Friday, July 12, 2019; 5:19 pm): This story has been updated to indicate that all animals that had been in the barn at Long Meadow Farm survived. The family who was living in the barn's apartment initially feared their cat had perished. 

In addition, neighbor Lisa Lavach has agreed to host the collection point for the Hanlon-Seavey family members. See new details within the story. 

* * * * *

 

Within hours of a fire that destroyed a 55-year old barn on Meadowbrook Road during the early morning of July 11, a gofundme campaign had been launched by Newtown resident Deana Rohan. A collection to replace physical items, or provide funds for such things, was also launched through a local Facebook page to help Evelyn Hanlon and her two adult children, who lived in an apartment over the stables of Long Meadow Horse Farm.

Ms Rohan set a $2,000 goal for the online fundraiser, which would “help our neighbors with anything they need” she posted as part of the fund’s description.

A relatively new resident to town who said she had not been to the barn nor even met those who lived in its apartment, Ms Rohan took the initiative because the online crowdfunding platform is, she felt, “the best way to get money to people following disasters like that.”

Ms Rohan took action, she said, after seeing a thread in local Facebook group, where many people were wondering how they could help. Many were hoping to donate items to help the family rebuild their life; others were asking about a gofundme campaign.

“I saw that there wasn’t a link available, so I started one,” she said. “I don’t know them, I haven’t been to the farm. I’m just a neighbor, and I wanted to do something to help.

“I will transfer the fund to the owners of the farm once I hear from them,” she added. “I will transfer the entire ownership to them.”

The fundraiser quickly gained traction, reaching $980 shortly before noon Thursday. Ms Rohan was not surprised.

“We have a really nice town, and this whole slogan of ‘Nicer In Newtown’ is true,” she said.

The fundraiser can be found by searching for “Our neighbors at Long Meadow Farms need help!” at gofundme.com.

As of 9 am Friday, July 12, the fund had surpassed $4,500 and was still trending.

 

Items Being Accepted

According to a thread started Thursday morning by Lisa Lavach in the Facebook group Newtown Neighbors Unite, residents can also help those displaced by the fire with direct donations of clothing.

A comment from Diana Dorta at 5:46 pm Thursday offered “a beginning list.”

The request includes size 14 boy’s jeans; size 14 girl’s underwear; women’s jeans (size 6), underwear (size 6), and socks (size 7-8); and men’s jeans (size 32-34), shirts (large), and socks (size 9).

Ms Dorta’s comment concluded with the note:

“Thank you everyone for your support — please stop by and say hi — and the [sic] we appreciate everyone.

“Although the barn is no longer here-we are.

“Signed

“Evelyn & Shelly and the rest of the Long Meadow family.”

Gift cards for such items would also be accepted, another note indicated.

Following Ms Lavach’s note about the fire, and an alert that help would be needed, many Facebook users immediately offered space and supplies for horses, including a few within a few miles of Long Meadow Farm; and furniture and utensils, among other items.

Ms Lavash lives diagonally across the street from the farm. She and Susan Seavey, who was one of the three people living in the barn apartment at the time of the fire, each told The Newtown Bee on Friday afternoon that donations should be delivered to Ms Lavash's home.

Items can be dropped in front of the garage of Ms Lavash's Pine Tree Hill home. When turning from Meadowbrook onto Pine Tree, Ms Lavash's is the first house on the right. 

"We just don't have anywhere to keep things right now," Ms Seavey said. "The outpouring has been amazing. The community has been freaking amazing. 

 

The Barn Fire

The 5,000 square foot barn at Long Meadow Horse Farm, which included a 927-square-foot apartment, was destroyed by an early morning fire on Thursday, July 11. Newtown Deputy Fire Marshal Steve Murphy said Friday morning that the cause may not be found.

“I can narrow it down to an area near the center of the barn, near a water spigot, but obviously that was not the cause,” he said. “Was it near that? Was it an outlet? Extension cords? We know there were some fans running,” he added. “I can tell you it wasn’t a lot of things, but I can’t tell you what it was.”

There were no signs, the fire marshal said, of arson.

There was small damage to a camper parked near the barn, Mr Murphy said, and also to two cars.

The total estimated loss, he said Friday morning, is approximately $300,000.

The family living in the apartment above the barn, along with at least a dozen horses, chickens and ducks, one dog and one cat all escaped from the building without injury Thursday morning. 

Evelyn Hanlon leased the barn, and operated horse boarding business from it, daughter Susan Seavey explained Friday afternoon. 

"We took care of the horses — turned them out, watered them, and took care of them," Ms Seavey said. Ms Seavey's brother also lived in the apartment, she said. 

"The animals were all checked by a vet on Thursday afternoon, and they're all fine," she mentioned.

All five of Newtown’s fire companies and two from Monroe were dispatched to the farm at 4:41 am Thursday. The first firefighters to the scene encountered flames that were reaching 50 feet high at times, with the full width of the barn engulfed.

Neighbors quickly emerged from their homes, making sure the residents of 34 Meadowbrook were safe, and then offered immediate help with blankets, food, and comfort.

Patti Goldbach and her husband live across the road from the barn. They were among those to run outside early Thursday morning after viewing what she described as “flames like I’ve never seen before. I felt sick,” she said a short time later.

Thursday afternoon, she was still stunned at her neighbors’ loss.

“No words for what happened,” Mrs Goldbach said.

 

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