After spending quality time with his children and grandkids on Father’s Day, Lyle Miller Sr. answered a phone call the following morning that drastically changed his way of life.
At around 11 a.m. the morning after the fire, Miller Sr. said he received news that his home for the past 12 years was ravaged by a blaze.
“I was shocked when I heard my house that I have a lot of connections to was destroyed by a fire,” Miller Sr. said in an interview this week with The Daily Republic.
While Miller Sr. said he believes the cause of the fire is associated with an electrical issue, the Mitchell Police Department has an ongoing investigation to identify whether suspicious activity was associated with the root of the fire. According to Fire Marshall Shannon Sandoval, the cause of the fire is believed to be electrical but he's unable to officially determine the cause. Sandoval said the house was deemed a total loss after the June 16 blaze, noting the Mitchell Fire Department's investigation is closed.
The aftermath of the fire is when the hardships began to set in for Miller family. Since the late night fire ravaged through his 1401 S. Main St. lot No. 77 house, Miller Sr. has adjusted to living out of a hotel room with his four grandkids.
From adjusting their diets with gas station food and donuts to waking up all of his grandkids on time in order for the hotel staff to clean the room daily, Miller Sr. said the challenges of losing his home have made life difficult for the whole family. But the day-to-day struggles Miller and his grandkids have been faced with haven’t defeated their spirits.
“This tragedy isn’t going to stop us, because I believe one door opens when another closes,” Miller Sr. said. “I have trust in God to get us through this is and into our house again.”
In 2006, Miller Sr. lost his wife to cancer. Before his she died, Miller Sr. said his wife helped financially contribute to saving up for the home she wasn’t able to set foot in. With the emotional connection to the house, he plans to rebuild in the same location.
To make matters more complicated, Miller Sr. was in the process of insuring his home. Thus, he will have to rely on independently funding the costs of rebuilding.
“This was what my wife and I always wanted. So that’s a reason why I don’t want to leave,” Miller Sr. said. “To me and my family, the house was our American dream. It’s very close to us all, and I will do anything I can to rebuild here.”
Miller Sr. is a local artist who has a studio of Native American paintings. The near brand new studio Miller spends much of his time working on paintings is separated roughly 3 feet from his house that was destroyed by the fire.
Just a short week away from having a brand new art studio completed, Miller Sr. said he feels blessed to have the studio and the sentimental paintings in tact after the late night blaze.
“Another reason I want to rebuild here is my studio being right next to my house,” said Miller Sr. while standing his paintings along the charred house. “I’m connected to this place, and I hope to raise some money to afford to build again.”
Looking toward the immediate future, Miller Sr. and some of his family members began removing the charred remains inside the home on Wednesday afternoon.
While he was sifting through the burnt furniture inside the home, a concerned neighbor made her way over to express her gratitude for the tragedy.
“We miss him so much already,” Gail Hahne said of Miller Sr. “I hope he can get this thing rebuilt and get back in the neighborhood.”
To help contribute and donate to Miller Sr.’s quest to rebuild his home, he said a Miller family benefit fund is set up through the local Wells Fargo bank.
“I wish I could afford all of this on my own, but that’s not the case,” Miller Sr. said. “Anything helps, and I appreciate all who care to help us in this difficult time.”