It took more than a year to build the little red farmhouse.
Each shingle was nailed into place by Dan Missler or one of his many nearby family members and friends.
But in just hours Friday morning, fire ate through the roof and chewed the insides of the home at 2433 Zenobia Road, southeast of Norwalk.
Missler, his fiancée, Angie Cherry, and their 7-month-old son, Carter, lived in the house for less than a year.
“We just got everything done in the baby’s room,” he said. “There is probably nothing of the baby’s left.”
Missler stood in his neighbor’s driveway, watching firefighters from Berlin and Townsendtownships battle the flames.Family members who live a short distance away gathered around him for support as they watched smoke billow from the home they all worked to build.
Missler said he was out in his truck when he got a call from a neighbor who told him there was smoke pouring from the house. Apparently someone driving bysaw the fire and alerted the neighbor. The neighbor ran to the home to make sure nobody was inside and called the fire department.
By the time Missler arrived, firefighters were already at the scene, pumping gallons of water onto the flames. Missler said he had no idea what might have caused the blaze. Cherry left for work at about 9 a.m. and dropped the baby off at her mother’s house.
Fire crews received the fire call at 9:42 a.m.
Missler said the family’s lab mix, Stewart, was with him when the fire broke out.
“It could have happened at night, you don’t know,” Missler said. “I’m just glad it didn’t.”
He said he owned the country lot for five to six years, and he loves the neighborhood. He lives next door to his brother, and within a short drive of other family members.
“We were pretty excited about getting the new house done,” Missler said.
He and Cherry were getting ready to get married, but those plans will now probably be postponed as the young family works through the insurance and rebuilding process.
Missler, who works in construction, plans to rebuild.
Townsend Township fire Chief Bob Johannson said the house was a total loss. He said the fire likely started near the front door of the house, but he could not verify the cause until an investigation is complete.
“It’s good nobody was hurt,” Johannson said.
Berlin Township fire Chief Jim Vartorella, who assisted at the scene with a crew of six firefighters, said the fire was a tough one to battle. The home was buttoned up with thick insulation.
“It’s great as far as keeping utility costs down, but it’s hard to get into,” Vartorella said.
Vartorella asked EMS to stand by while firefighters knocked down the flames after one of his crew members put his foot through the roof and had to be pulled to safety.
Crews didn’t pack up and leave the scene until 2:30 p.m.