STRATFORD - Fire destroyed the home of Stratford Volunteer Fire Department Chief Donald Vedder on Monday.
No one was home and no one was injured in the fire, which was reported by a neighbor who heard a popping noise and smelled smoke, Hilltop Fire Chief Edwin Johnson said.
After receiving the call around 11:30 a.m., the Stratford department responded to 183 Piseco Road, the home of Vedder.
Heavy smoke billowed from the front side of the house, fire officials said.
By noon, the Hilltop Fire Department arrived to help, and by the end of the day, around 50 firefighters from eight departments had arrived to help.
The fire was under control around 2 p.m., fire officials said.
The home was considered a total loss, officials said.
The cause of the fire was still unknown this morning.
Oppenheim Fire Department Assistant Chief Brian Miller said an electrical problem could be to blame, but he was unsure.
Firefighting was difficult because of the size of the fire as well as the wind and heat Monday, said Rockwood-Garoga- Lasselville Fire Chief Mark Souza.
Several of the crews worked in rotation because of the intense heat of the fire, fire officials said.
By the end of the day, fire departments from Hilltop, RGL, Oppenheim, Dogleville, Salisbury, Ephratah and St. Johnsville had come to assist the Stratford Fire Department.
The incident was emotional for at least some firefighters, officials said.
"It gets kind of personal when one of your brothers' house burns down. ... Every time there's a fire, it affects all the firefighters. It's one of those situations where there's a job we have to do. When it comes to a firefighter as a family member, there's a different reaction, of course," Johnson said.
He said firefighters fight fires the same way regardless of the situation.
The American Red Cross sent volunteers to help the Vedders, providing financial assistance for groceries and clothing.
Other fire chiefs also offered their assistance.
"We all told [the Vedders] that if they needed anything, we would help them in any way we can," Johnson said.
Neither Vedder nor Stratford Fire Department officials could be reached for comment.