Amish Store & Home Burn In Kentucky (Video)

Here’s footage from a home fire which occurred Saturday evening in the Amish community at Oak Grove, Kentucky.

Due to the intensity of the blaze, seven fire companies were called in to help, with one injury. The blaze was sparked by a gas motor in a freezer, which ignited a 300-gallon tank of gasoline creating a huge explosion, completely destroying the home and the business, Shady Lane Sales.

The family tried to retrieve items, but “barely escaped with their lives.” You can see some footage of the blaze and the aftermath below (removed).

In the video by WTVF, Herndon Fire Chief Neil Farmer describes why fires can be more destructive in the Amish community.

This is apparently a plain community which doesn’t use smoke detectors. Also, no fire hydrant was to be found within one mile of the home, which also hindered efforts to stomp out the inferno.

Amish are no stranger to fires, which can be sparked via their heating or lighting, machinery and equipment as in this case, or even from high moisture levels in stored hay, as in the Maryland barn fire and explosion last year.

Community support always kicks in in times like this, and this family will at least be, materially, back on their feet shortly. That doesn’t erase the trauma of an event like this, of course.

But community can certainly ease the burdens and pains of great losses, which they already have begun doing by providing food for the family and firefighters.

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    1. Judith

      I feel for the family...but one interesting thing...

      In many ways I know how this family feels. When I moved back from Europe to take care of my parents in their home, we lost our home to a fire. While I was getting my Dad out of the house, my 74 year old mother was the hero of the night, she ran back into the blaze to retrieve our family corgi dog, who was sitting in the middle of the living room while smoke was descending.

      The whole house was lost, we went to live with an aunt who lived nearby while the insurance would take a year to rebuild.

      This is what’s interesting. I had just moved back from Europe and everything I owned was in our garage. It provided a lot of fuel for the fire. I had retrieved our family photos and films, but I lost everything else. — I didn’t cry. I don’t know why. Everyone kept saying “Oh Judith, I’m so sorry!” and I said thank you, but inside — I felt very free.

      We moved back into a beautiful new house – and I made a vow not to buy so much stuff, so any clothes, material things became worthless in my eyes. The only real things that matter in my life – are the lives of my loved ones. I know it sounds cliché. But it is true. It is very freeing not to own things. Not to diminish the sadness for this Amish family – but I think they’re going to be just fine.

      But one thing, smoke detectors saved my and my parents’ lives. Our fire occurred in the dead of night. They are battery powered Guardian Angels.

    2. OldKat

      Moving story

      Actually two moving stories; I am sorry to here of this families loss, glad to know that everyone got out safely.

      Also, that is a very moving story shared by Judith. Glad she, her parents and their little dog were all safe. Good point about possessions, too.

      1. People not possessions

        I agree with Oldkat, great story Judith. It can’t be said too much.

    3. Sharon

      Correction to information

      Herndon is a community/town in Christian County, Kentucky (not Herndon County).

      1. Fixed

        Thanks, Sharon. Not sure how County got in there.

    4. Andy

      Great story and follow up by Judith

      It is tough to know about such loss but like Judith I fell they will be fine. I pray for the one injured firefighter.

    5. Alice Mary

      I “get” what you mean about feeling “free”, Judith! So glad you all survived. I, too, look forward to “freeing” myself (my only new year’s resolution) of many, many possessions this year (though not in such a spectacular, terrifying fashion!). I’ll be glad to “share” my “loss” with Goodwill and local thrift stores.

      God bless & keep all firefighters from harm. I know a few, and think of them when I hear of such tragedies.

      Alice Mary

    6. Sadly another fire in SE Minnesota is believed to have claimed the lives of a bishop and a teenage son. This was the Harmony Amish community which is a Swartzentruber group and so not a smoke detector-using community.

      And from

      Kaase said the Minnesota Fire Marshal’s office will investigate the cause of the fire, but said “with this type of home, usually the only source of heat” is a wood-burning stove.

      Members of the Amish community came from miles around, with at least a dozen buggies lining the road. A sawmill on the property was turned into a gathering spot for the Amish who came to support the families.

      “It’s heartbreaking, not only for the immediate family, but for the whole community,” said Eli Hershberger, a neighbor.

      1. Al in Ky

        This is very sad news. I have been to this community many times, since my hometown is not too far from Harmony/Canton. I did not know the family, but have several Amish friends who know the family. I read several news accounts of the story. One account said the temperature was 13 below zero when the firefighters came and they had difficulty with their gloves and boots freezing. They also had difficulty walking due to the water from their firehoses freezing so quickly.

    7. Judith

      I really don't get it.

      I’m trying to understand why smoke detectors (or even more so – reflective triangles on the back of buggies for that matter) are forbidden by an Ordnung.

      I understand the idea of the Ordnung – a set of rules that put the follower closer to living a Christ-like life. But to purposely endanger one’s own family’s lives – simply by omission of a battery powered smoke detector, seems, quite frankly, to have a grave disrespect for life.

      Such a small thing, such as a reflective triangle on a buggy – how could that endanger one’s soul? And when taken away, make life — Life as a precious gift from God to all born here on Earth — appear to be as meaningful as a flip of a coin.

      Is it not disrespectful to God? To treat this gift as if it were not worth a battery?

      1. Judith this comment may shed a little light on the viewpoint of conservative Amish who reject the smoke detector:

        There are some other posts here which delve into the issue and might also offer some insight:

        1. Judith

          Thank you!

          Thanks, Erik, for all those amazing links, it is taking me a while to get through all of the amazing amount of comments about the subject. But I think I’m starting to understand the mentality.

          It is some hard-core, OG, Amishness – to reject a smoke detector and a safety triangle. At first I couldn’t understand the reasoning at all – but I’m starting to glean a little more after reading those links.

          In fact, the mentality of the Schwartzentruber and other communities that are that strict, really are the reason for the split. And I already knew that – but when one reads about how far they go, it’s somewhat shocking, but also impressive.

          And Reason and Logic really have no place in that world. To actively ignore reason and logic, at one’s own peril and that of their family’s safety, is Amishness on steroids. At first, I was somewhat dismissive of the idea that a smoke detector is “the devil’s handiwork”. But that is their reasoning. That is their logic. And the more I read about it – the more I at the very least, see their point of view – if not accept it for obvious reasons.

          Like the Amish themselves, once I stop applying reason to the Ordnung of these stricter communities, I begin to get to a point where I understand more them just a little bit more.

          It seems to be fear based. The devil and hell as every-day concepts are big motivators for some of these stricter communities. Not even the Catholic Church is doing this fear-based worship anymore. But these very conservative communities are driven to make sure the devil is kept at bay and hell is a place they have to really work hard to stay out of. Very different from the (very basic) “God is Love and hell is the absence of Love” stance that most Catholics hear about every Sunday morning. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I heard the words “devil” or “hell” at church – and I’ve been going to church for a very, very long time. Not that we don’t fear for our immortal lives – just that we don’t see life in terms of devils and hell – and once you start to examine that, their triangles and no smoke detectors start to make some small bit of sense. The fear of hell and the devil is real and tangible for them.

          At least that is the shaky conclusion I am slowly arriving at.

    8. Terry Berger

      Sister settlement

      Is that community a sister settlement of Lancaster County? It just had that flavor by some of the pictures.


      1. I’m not sure Terry. I don’t know the origin of this group, but the people you can see sort of have a Lancaster look. The one carriage pictured is an open one so you can’t tell by top color.

        The fire chief does suggest they don’t use smoke detectors, which usually suggests one of the more traditional groups (the devices are common in Lancaster County at least, though some sister settlements are plainer than Lancaster).

    9. Kiki


      Hi All,

      I had a question about how Amish power their appliances and, given this fire incident, what safer alternatives are out there that they can afford. My husband and I will be moving to a desert in S. Oregon where there is just a well and nothing else; no grid to connect to. I know about propane (gas) refrigerators/freezers and incinerating toilets that use propane and batteries. I see this video and I’m scared to death that it’ll happen to us if we use propane refrig/freezer and such. Are they safer than they seem given all the fires we keep hearing about and are Amish families using other options? Thanks!

      1. Mark - Holmes Co.

        Hello Kiki,
        You’re asking some good questions! Propane can be very dangerous. Though there are many communities that use propane, we don’t often see it being used in our neighborhood, but we see a lot of natural gas. Natural gas is cheaper, less maintenance (refilling tanks, etc.) and safer. For example, if you light a propane light, you MUST light your lighter before opening the propane valve or you could blow yourself and your house up. With natural gas, we still light the lighter first most of the time, but someone with hands full can still open the light valve a little, light the lighter, then turn it brighter without causing any serious risk. Natural gas can be shut off to a building by using the master valve in case of a fire, but a house fire & propane is disastrous. I’m told that if a building is on fire and there are propane lights or other contained tanks, the fire crews will refuse (with good reason) to enter the building.
        (And the man, whose name I have forgotten, who commented on a lot of safety issues a while back will hopefully correct me if I’m wrong or add his views.)
        We use natural gas for our cooking stoves, fridges, freezer, hot water-heater, etc. But if natural gas is not an option, there are alternatives.
        It’s amazing what can be done with solar panels, battery banks, and inverters. Though we don’t use a battery fridge or freezer, they are available. They are not cheap and they are also not as large as gas or electric models, but it might be worth looking at.
        Another alternative is a kerosene burning fridge/ freezer. Those perform almost as well as natural gas, BUT you will need to refill the tank regularly and keep the wick trimmed. We had one before we got natural gas and it worked well, but the first 2-3 days it was in use the fumes were bad and it was winter, so we didn’t like opening windows. About the time we were ready to remove it, the situation changed and it was fine. I guess new appliances nee to be “seasoned” or something. Another issue there is the paint on the wall behind the fridge got somewhat discolored.
        Though our bathrooms are just standard bathrooms, we actually have a battery toilet in our basement. The floor level is lower than the plumbing, so we installed a toilet that runs off a 12-volt battery. It “grinds” up the waste and pumps it up to the pipes in the ceiling where it can then flow out with the waste from upstairs. It does not incinerate like the model you are talking about, but it might provide a safer alternative to propane.
        The Weaver Amish in our area use ice-boxes instead of fridges, but you can’t freeze things in them and I’m guessing you don’t get ice delivered in 50 pound blocks in rural Oregon…
        Check out the Blu-flame kerosene heaters if you are not interested in burning wood or coal… Also look at battery-lights run by 12-volt, especially with LED bulbs (the battery will last longer.)
        So — there’s a bunch of random thoughts. 🙂 If you would like addresses & phone numbers for companies making safer alternatives to propane, I’m happy to see what I can turn up to pass on to you. We have a great solar business in our neighborhood and the owner (Amish) is really serious about safe energy and a great person to give advice. For battery lighting, the Star-Lux company in Lancaster is a great source for the lamps themselves, as is “The Lighthouse” here in our community.

        1. Pete Antos-Ketcham

          Off Grid Questions

          Hello Mark – You seem to have a lot of great off-grid experience and I am wondering if you’d be open to answering some questions I have. If so what is the best way to be in touch with you?



      2. Mark - Holmes Co.

        Once again, Kiki, I wrote a detailed answer and it seems to have disappeared but the comment I wrote after that is on here… Is it just delayed?

        1. Mark - Holmes Co.

          Oh… there it is. Sorry!

    10. Mark - Holmes Co.

      It does not show up in “recent comments,” but my response is on the article about the fire.

    11. Kiki


      Hey Mark!

      Thank you so very much for all your advice. It’s nice to hear of all the alternatives and experience you have with the different options. The solar seems cost prohibitive for us ($50K) and my architect seems to think a wind generator is a good idea, however the water driller does not. Both suggest propane and there are lots of people here in Hawai’i who use propane for stoves but nothing else. A well-made gas stove is fine but I know of no one who uses a propane fridge, though they may be on Hawai’i island or Moloka’i where rural areas are more prevalent than here.

      Again, I thank you, sir, for all your help and I pray there’ll be no more fires! With all the warnings and information out there, it always surprises me that some people, not the people in the above incident, but others in the “English” community, get really careless and end up in a tragedy. I guess “common sense” is never common!

      Take care and God bless!

      1. Mark - Holmes Co.

        You’re welcome, Kiki. I’m trying to get over the surprise in reading about a 50K price tag for solar! Wow… Have you ever thought about getting the parts and installing it yourself? We know an non-Amish couple who converted their home to solar, or I should say mostly to solar, I’m thinking they still use electric for their air-conditioner, TV, etc., and I’d be very surprised if they gave even half that to have it all installed.
        Check out Bunker Hill Hardware or Enviro-Sol online. (I just did and found an article called “The Folks at Enviro-Sol use what they sell.”) The owner, Javon Miller, could probably give you an idea of what a system would need and what it SHOULD cost. I saw they have solar water-pumps, too.
        I have never used a wind generator, but a few families in our church installed those. One ended up removing it, saying there were too many issues and maintenance was a problem, but another family has used one for many years and they seem to like it. For myself, I don’t really like the noise it makes. I can’t describe it very well, but it reminds me of the sound made if you bump a guide-wire on a big tower. When the family living very close to the road put one up, the sound made on very windy days sometimes caused horses to shy about going past it.
        I should have added also that there are local businesses who can convert a gas generator to run on natural gas so surely it’s possible for propane??? That way a generator could be run away from the buildings and the electricity run into the house. The most usual place to see that is for dairies. The generator there will help cool the milk-tank and run milking machines. Just a thought…

        1. Kiki


          Yeah, Mark, I just found out that there is no Natural Gas in the area we’ll be; it’s the high desert of the Tablelands in the middle of, literally, no where. So we’d be forced to use propane. I’ll check out the sources you suggested for the solar. The company that gave me that ridiculous quote also suggested a $5K propane generator we’d need. Geez! Well, living off the grid is certainly turning out to be an adventure in stress!


          1. Mark - Holmes Co.

            Kiki, I’d try checking with Charm Engine. I’m sure you can find their info on-line. They are an Amish business in our area and the first place I check for any power equipment like generators. The 5K sounds really high…

            1. Kiki


              Thanks Mark!

              1. Mark - Holmes Co.

                You’re welcome. Let me know if I can be of help.

    12. Judith

      English living "off the grid"

      I must say, you are a very courageous person, Kiki. Will you be living around people you know who will help you? That you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg to? To live in the middle of nowhere, with no gas source, water source, or most importantly – a community that can help you, would scare me half to death. Propane?! Sure, some experienced people use it all the time, but still, if you’re half asleep, or when you get older and experience age-related forgetfulness, or just simply distracted — just one small mistake and kaboom.

      Unless I was raised around propane, and achieved the kind of muscle memory that one gets from doing the same thing over and over, I would really think hard and long about installing anything that uses propane.

      But this all brings up questions in my mind about the tremendous worth of community in Amish Society. I am getting the feeling that living a simple and plain life would not be mentally difficult when one has so many other examples around them. And I don’t think it would be as physically difficult as some think, since everyone lends a hand to help each other.

      I do think that an English person trying to live a simple life, all on their own with only a spouse, with no free and generous help, no examples, no visits, no connection to the world — would be taking the term “off the grid” to a new level that surpasses even the Amish. That’s an “off the grid” experience that I would personally dread. But you seem to have the determination and desire to do it.

      Community is the glue that makes it all work. I think the Amish lifestyle is not really so off the grid. It’s just a different grid.

    13. Kiki

      "English" living off-grid

      Hey Judith!

      Nice to hear from you 😉 I agree that the Amish are on “a different grid”. I like the way you put that.
      Yeah, the military taught me well how to live off-grid; I lived in an Express van for a year and a half while finishing my BA and starting my Masters. Us Native Hawaiians have an adventurous side, lol! My husband is the one who’ll have more difficulty, as his idea of roughing it is a hotel without TV! I’ve had experience with gas stoves but not gas refrigerators, etc. I personally love oil lamps and use one to read my prayer book during the night or early morning. I’d rather do that then flip a light switch. If I could ride a horse or mule to work I’d be happy as a clam but the other police officers would freak. I think I was born in the wrong century! Just because we need to wire the house for electricity doesn’t mean I have to use it.
      There is but one family (at least it looks that way) out there, about a mile away from our property. There’s also a guy who looks to be living in a bus about a quarter mile away from our property.

      We’ll figure something out, I’m sure. The Lord will show us what we need to do and how to do it 😉

      1. Judith

        Tiny House...

        Hi Kiki – I’m sure you have heard of the tiny house movement. Here is a tiny house built to be fully off grid and mobile.

        And another totally off grid and mobile….

        I have always loved tiny houses. And if you don’t have 8 kids, it’s a viable and reasonably priced option. There’s even an 18year old girl who built her own for around $17 grand. It has everything from composting toilet to cook stove. You’ll notice there are tons of solar panels, gas and some have propane stoves.

        I suppose if I was forced to go absolutely off grid – this would be the way I’d go.

        And yes, if God can clothe the sparrows, surely he will clothe you, so to speak. I wish you the best in your amazing adventure. Keep us updated on your move off the grid.

        1. Kiki

          Tiny House

          Hi Judith,

          Yes, I’ve let YouTube be my classroom on LOTS of things, including building with stone, woodworking, living off-grid, and building small homes. If it was just me alone, I’d live in a cave, lol. However, I have a not-so-off-grid husband who will go into withdrawals without television! So it goes. My original design was a round straw bale home, then it became an earth bag home. Because it’s unconventional, my architect says it’ll be more expensive (and the roof is a complicated reciprocal roof that no one seems to be able to do). So, he suggested a pre-fab yurt. We’ll go with the 35′ one without any interior walls – more space in case my son and his family fly over for a visit. If you go to Jas. Townsend and Son you’ll see the fireplace hearth I wanted to build for cooking. Actually, my ancestors on my father’s side (Hawaiian) cooked outside so my plan was to build a separate cook house. We also wanted a couple of dairy sheep, some chickens, and a mule for a grocery delivery service. Anyway, God willing, we’ll get a loan and do this thing before we’re 80! Have a great weekend and God bless!

    14. Mark - Holmes Co.

      You are making some good points, Judith. Being familiar with non-electric things and learning it from a young age by watching others do it is very different from trying to teach yourself.

      It’s definitely much easier to live without electric if you are in a community where it’s common. There are all kinds of businesses who sell what is needed (and apparently MUCH cheaper than in areas where it’s not common) and there are lots of service people as well as family, friends, & neighbors who live the same way. I really don’t think of our lifestyle as difficult or stressful and like a lot of Amish people who work at a non-Amish business, I don’t really think about the difference — I just “do it.” At work I flick a light-switch, at home I flick my Bic. 🙂

      There is a good book called “Living Without Electricity” by Stephen Scott. It’s not as much a “how to” book as a look at the wide variety of lifestyles in various Plain communities and each section starts with a “story” about how a certain family cooks on a wood-stove, lights their home, or whatever. It’s quite interesting, informative, and has lots of pictures.

      The Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center sells it & can ship, but I’m sure it could be found on Amazon or the like, too.

      1. Judith

        Living without Electricity

        Thanks for the heads up on that book – I saw it on Amazon and it looked so interesting (and it was only $7.00) that I bought it.

        As a side note – It’s funny that Amazon paired that book with another book called “Just In Case” – a book about survival after an apocalypse. I’m not into that post apocalypse survivalist stuff. I know a couple of people who think the apocalypse is around the corner and they’re stocking up on water purification tablets and survival equipment, one even has a cabin way out in the mountains just for that. I really don’t understand the logic of it all. I personally find that a big waste of time, money and energy.

        When I was young, I would sit on the porch with my Dad and opine about all sorts of things. One time I asked my Dad what he would do if he Russians dropped a hydrogen bomb on our city, like would he go to a bomb shelter, or out into the desert etc. – and my Dad said, “I hope they drop it right on my head, because I don’t want to survive the apocalypse.” I was shocked and asked why and he said, “There are some things in life that are worse than death”. And as I’ve grown older – I realize, oh boy, he was right. Why survive, to experience a living hell, when you can shed this earthly vessel and experience God’s love face to face?

        1. Mark - Holmes Co.

          Hi Judith. I’d be interested in knowing what you think of the book once you’ve read it.

          I get what you are saying about surviving a disaster like that. I’d think the fortunate ones would be the ones to die immediately.

    15. Mark - Holmes Co.

      I just watched the video… This is a Lancaster Co. type community. The men’s hats, women’s hair-style & head-scarves, and open-buggy are all Lancaster style. (The open buggy has no dash-board.) Though the man in the video said they had no smoke alarm, that is not in the Lancaster Ordnung. This family might not have had one, but I know of Lancaster Amish who do have them.