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Fire destroys Smithsburg home

November 16, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

SMITHSBURG - A fire with flames that shot 10 feet into the air destroyed a Smithsburg home Tuesday evening, according to firefighters.

More than 50 area firefighters battled the 220 W. Water St. blaze, which was reported by the home owner at around 7 p.m., according to Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Ron Jeter.

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No one was injured in the fire, but Jeter said the home was destroyed.

When firefighters arrived, 10-foot-high flames were shooting from a side window of the two-story home, he said.

Firefighters initially attacked the blaze from inside, but the fire spread, he said.

"We had to evacuate the building because we were afraid the whole roof would collapse," Jeter said.

Working in teams, firefighters then fought the blaze from the outside, at the sides and front of the house.

The original rear portion of the T-shaped house was a cabin built in the 1800s, said Cheyenne Foltz who lived in the home with his father and mother. The house also had a more modern addition.

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Foltz, who is a firefighter with the Smithsburg Fire Department, said his father, who was home alone when the fire broke out, got out safely.

Smoke and flames poured from three sides of the roof as Foltz gazed up at a large hole that continued to grow as the heat and flames ate into it.

He said he was at his girlfriend's house when he heard the call for the fire. Foltz said he knew it was his home when he saw smoke coming from the chimney at a distance.

"It was the first time we burned the chimney this year," he said.

Foltz watched the firefighters try to save what was left of the home in which he had lived for the past 13 years. The flames melted siding that he said had recently been installed.

He theorized that the chimney's flue might have cracked and flames spread through the walls.

Foltz said he didn't think any of his family's possessions could be saved.

Firefighters climbed from the front porch roof to get to the upper roof to attack the flames while others smashed second story windows and climbed inside.

Huge gusts of smoke periodically covered the area, cutting visibility and making it difficult to breathe as water bounced off the house and rained down on firefighters.

The fire was under control by around 9 p.m., firefighters said. They said they would remain on the scene until about midnight.

A fire marshal would try to determine the cause of the blaze, Jeter said.

Firefighters from Smithsburg, Leitersburg, Mount Aetna, Maugansville, Washington County Air Unit, Funkstown and Waynesboro, Pa. went to the scene in addition to fire police and the Hagerstown Civil Air Patrol.

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