Greenfield fire claims homemade homestead

“I built this house,” said Dave Miller of the burned-out structure on the 6800 block of Hidden Lane in Greenfield that served as his family’s home for the last 20 years.

The upstairs loft area, once a bedroom to the Miller’s sons, took the most heat. In the background, some of Cindy Miller’s artwork rests among the ruins.

The upstairs loft area, once a bedroom to the Miller’s sons, took the most heat. In the background, some of Cindy Miller’s artwork rests among the ruins.

And by “built it”, Miller really means it. By profession, he’s in the technology field, but he watched his father build houses while he was growing up and always wanted to replicate the experience himself. Twenty years ago, he got that chance with some help from his father and father in law. The result was a unique, wood-sided home, a perfect fit for Miller, his wife and two sons.

The fire is believed to have started at an electrical box at the rear of the house.

The fire is believed to have started at an electrical box at the rear of the house.

On Tuesday, Sept. 4, sometime after 9 a.m., a fire swept through the home taking with it memories and seriously jeopardizing the integrity of the remaining structure. “It will have to come down,” Miller said of the house.

The Loretto Fire Department, under direction of Fire Chief Jeff Leuer, extinguished the fire with aid from several area departments including Rockford, Hanover, Hamel, Maple Plain, Delano and Long Lake. Due to the intense heat of the day, coupled with that of the fire, portable units were brought on site for firefighters to cool down. Leuer said that upon arrival, the departments focused on salvaging as much of the interior of the home as possible.

At first inspection, this home on Hidden Lane in Greenfield doesn’t look like it sustained a damaging fire. The inside, however, tells a different story. (Photos by Linda Herkenhoff)

At first inspection, this home on Hidden Lane in Greenfield doesn’t look like it sustained a damaging fire. The inside, however, tells a different story. (Photos by Linda Herkenhoff)

The fire is reported to be an electrical fire, caused by a meter affixed to the rear of the home. After igniting, the flames burned through to the inside of the home, and quickly crawled up to the second story and exploded taking out the second story roof.

Although much of the Miller’s property appears to be unsalvageable, some items survived the worst of the flames, including part of a collection of original art by Cindy Miller, a popular Rockford Schools art teacher.

At the time of the fire, both Dave and Cindy were at work. Their two sons no longer live at home, and the house was vacant. Both sons, upon hearing the news, traveled home to witness the destruction.

Miller says that they plan on rebuilding on the site, a lovely landscaped parcel on a hill, but that it will be a little different this time around. This time, someone will be pounding the nails and laying the blocks.

“I can’t say, ‘I built this house,’ Miller says of the future. “Someone else will have built it.”

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