FARMINGTON — Brian Smiley took over his family’s logging business just two weeks before a fire that started early Saturday morning, destroying a sawmill built by his parents nearly 33 years ago.

Even as Smiley, 29, sifted through the sawmill’s charred remains Tuesday afternoon, he paused for a moment, looked at his parents and couldn’t help but smile at the couple hard at work nearby.

He thought about his two young sons, Ben and Luke, before pledging to give them the same opportunity to succeed that he had got from his parents, who live next to the sawmill in a house that firefighters managed to save from the blaze.

“We’re going to pick up the pieces, clean up and build again, because that’s all you can do when something like this happens,” he said.

Working alongside neighbors and friends, Smiley and his parents have spent the last three days cleaning up their property off Knowlton Corner Road, where the family harvests timber in the rolling hills south of downtown Farmington.

His father, Donald Smiley Jr., 72, was waking up early for another day’s work when he heard a loud bang Saturday just before 4 a.m. He remembers opening the front door to find the nearby sawmill ablaze, orange flames igniting woods that had been pitch black moments earlier.

He called 911 and, along with his wife, Pamela, ran down the dirt road to safety. Firefighters started arriving within minutes of the emergency call, telling the couple they would do whatever they could to save the home.

The couple recalls watching as dozens of firefighters arrived in waves and beat back the blaze, as an early morning breeze kept blowing the flames toward the home just a few steps across a dirt road from the sawmill.

“They did a bang-up job and saved our house, and we can’t say thank you enough,” Donald Smiley Jr. said Tuesday.

About 80 firefighters from 10 area departments responded to the sawmill fire that morning, Farmington Fire Chief Terry Bell said Tuesday. When they arrived, the building was engulfed in flames, sending hot embers scattering and catching nearby trees and bushes on fire, Bell said.

Fire hose crews soaked the home while beating back the flames, extinguishing the fire before it spread to the home and garage, Bell said, adding that extensive fire damage made it impossible to determine a cause.

The Smileys on Tuesday continued to take inventory of the devastation, salvaging some timber and a few pieces of equipment. The sawmill was uninsured because the family-owned business couldn’t afford the high premiums suited to larger sawmill operations, they said.

The couple has owned and worked the land since their marriage in 1972, raising Brian and his older brother, Robert, in a home on the property. About three years ago, they built the house that firefighters saved Saturday.

Brian lives in New Sharon with his fiancee, Kristen Casey, and their two children, ages 4 and 8. They had plans to build a home on the Knowlton Corner Road property this summer, next to his parents’ house.

Despite the setback he was dealt by Saturday’s fire, Brian is confident the family business can stay afloat by selling timber while they rebuild the sawmill. They’ve also had a lot of friends, neighbors and relatives making donations and bringing heavy equipment to help clean up after the fire.

“We’re lucky to have such a great community,” he said, “and we’re just going to keep moving forward and staying positive.”

David F. Robinson — 861-9287

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