Maugansville Fire Co. must look to EPA

October 17, 1997


Staff Writer

FAIRPLAY - The last chance for the Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co. to recoup some of the costs of fighting a massive tire fire in Cearfoss last March may be the federal government.

The Washington County Commissioners denied a request to help the fire company pay some of costs at its meeting two weeks ago. The state of Maryland also has turned Maugansville down.

The fire company was forced to search for outside funds because the property owner's insurance did not cover the fire, which broke out along a 100-by-200 foot section of tires behind a house on 17049 Castle Hill Road.


The tires had been used for gardening purposes. The blaze took 13 hours to fight.

The Environmental Protection Agency now may be the only agency that the fire company has a chance to get money from.

Maugansville Chief Phil Ridenour expressed disappointment at Thursday's Washington County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association meeting that county officials have not helped the company.

"We were promised some things by certain people in this county - people who didn't come through for us," he said.

County Commissioner James R. Wade said at the commissioners' Sept. 1 meeting that the county should not pay bills that are the responsibility of the property owner.

The owner, Denzil Poling, has not responded to several bills, according to fire officials.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the county should try to help Maugansville collect the money.

Ridenour said the fire cost about $47,000, including manpower. It is seeking reimbursement for about $26,000, he said. The fire company still has not paid a fire supply firm the biggest cost, $18,000 for foam that was used to douse the flames.

Association President Jay Grimes said the larger issue is who will pay for a massive environmental hazard. He said volunteer fire companies will not be able to provide the service if they get no help from state or county officials.

"It puts us in a bad position for the future," Grimes said. "That becomes a dramatic figure."

Robert P. Cumberland, the association's administrative planner, said fire companies must report environmental emergencies to the National Response Center or the Coast Guard within 24 hours of an incident to increase the chances of getting federal money.

"We're all learning a lot out of this tire fire situation," he said.

Grimes said association officials still hope to win some financial help from the EPA. He added that the county should be willing to help pay for a vital service.

"We're not going to give up," he said. "I think the county government has a responsibility to assist."

Staff Writer Steven T. Dennis contributed to this story.

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