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Fire chief's home destroyed by blaze

July 19, 1997

By LAURA ERNDE

Staff Writer

MAPLEVILLE - The Mount Aetna Volunteer Fire Co. chief's house was destroyed by fire Friday.

Standing outside his charred home at 7918 Mapleville Road, Terry Wayne Stouffer said he has seen numerous fires, but never imagined himself as a victim.

"The main thing is, no one was hurt," said Stouffer, 32.

Stouffer appeared amazingly calm for someone who had just lost everything, but he said experience has taught him how to deal with such an event.

"It's no use getting upset. It's not going to fix the problem," he said.

Friday night, he was to stay with his sister, Robin Grim, who lives in a house directly behind his.

It was Grim, 38, who called for help after she saw flames leaping from the back corner of the house at 1:31 p.m.

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"Thank goodness no one was in there," she said.

Stouffer lived at the house with his girlfriend, Sharon Deuel. Each of them has a daughter from a previous marriage. Hers was at a baby sitter's house and his was with her mother, they said.

Two cats, Jasmine and Ariel, that were in the house when the fire broke out, were not found. But the couple was hopeful they were able to escape.

Grim called Stouffer at the Washington County Airport, where he works in maintenance, to tell him about the fire.

By the time Stouffer arrived, the Boonsboro Volunteer Fire Department and a contingent of about 50 other area firefighters had the fire under control.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation Friday by the Maryland Fire Marshal's Office.

It appeared to start somewhere in the back corner of the house. Because of a hot wind blowing in that direction, fire spread very quickly, said Deputy Fire Marshal Jim Woods.

"As hot as this grass is, as soon as the wind starts driving, boom," Woods said.

For a short time, firefighters feared flames would spread to nearby homes on the rural road, said Boonsboro Chief Oley Griffith.

A quarter-acre of brown lawn was charred to the front and side of the house.

The heat posed a challenge for the 50 firefighters who fought the fire. They had to take breaks about every 20 minutes to cool down, Griffith said.

The fire marshal's office estimated damage to the house at $75,000 and its contents at $25,000. Stouffer has insurance.

"Thank goodness for Visa and Mastercard and worry about paying it later," Stouffer said.

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