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Small fire threatens Roundhouse

January 28, 1998

Small fire threatens Roundhouse

BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

Firefighters Tuesday put out a small blaze amid blankets and other items inside Hagerstown's Roundhouse, officials said.

Hagerstown Fire Department Battalion Chief Ron Horn said the fire started at about 4:30 p.m. in a little room inside the structure. Firefighters brought the fire under control within minutes and had it out within about half an hour.

"There wasn't that much to it," Horn said. "It looks like someone made a fire to keep warm."

At one time, the Roundhouse was a bustle of activity, a hub where engines were repaired and fabricated. That activity ended in 1986. For another three years, the Roundhouse handled contracts to restore steam locomotives, but since then, the facility has slowly fallen into disrepair.

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Blaine Snyder, manager of operations at the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum, said vandals and vagrants have taken their toll on the sprawling property off South Burhans Boulevard.

"We try to maintain security on it, but ... it's such a vast area, people can get it," he said. "It's surprising what people do to property that's not their own."

Horn said he remembers making runs to the Roundhouse in the 1960s and '70s when he was a member of the rescue squad.

"Workers would get hurt up here," he said. "It's a piece of history."

Snyder said the room in which Tuesday's fire started was a shop superintendent's office. There were many offices inside the Roundhouse, he said.

Firefighters from Halfway, Maugansville and the Washington County Air Unit assisted in the fire.

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