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Fire leaves memories of home

November 28, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

BOONSBORO - With mixed emotions, brothers Fayette and Charles Stouffer watched as the 125-year-old log house in which they grew up burned to the ground Sunday morning.

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The blaze came as no surprise. The log home, at the corner of Mount Lena and Crystal Falls roads, was burned as part of a series of training exercises for fire departments in southern Washington County.

"It made me sad, but progress must go on," said Fayette Stouffer, 70, of Boonsboro.

Capt. Scott Mullendore of the First Hose Co. of Boonsboro organized the event and ran the exercises from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the home donated by current owner Brent Gaudin.

A controlled burning situation provides invaluable, hands-on training that is hard to come by for fire departments, said Mullendore.

Stouffer said he was pleased that the home was put to good use by the firefighters and has warm memories of living there with his parents and six brothers and sisters.

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"I remember having sing-alongs while my mother played the piano and the organ," he said.

Stouffer was born in the house in 1929 and lived there for 14 years.

The house, which had been owned by three generations of Stouffers, was eventually sold to Clyde Plunkard for between $15,000 and $20,000, Stouffer said.

Plunkard then gave it to his son-in-law, Brent Gaudin, who donated it to Boonsboro.

When Stouffer lived there, it had no running water, heat or bathroom. The family used an outhouse and drew water from a well with a bucket, Stouffer said.

The home was heated a by a kitchen stove and a potbellied stove in the living room that often went out during the night.

Stouffer said they got used to waking up with frost on the inside of the windows and always had a lot of warm blankets.

"We would heat bricks on the potbellied stove and put them under the covers," he said.

Along with the Stouffers, Gaudin, also of Boonsboro, was there to see flames reduce the two-story house to rubble.

A friend of his had donated a home to the fire department years ago and suggested Gaudin do the same.

He said he was glad to provide the fire departments with an opportunity to enhance their skills.

The house was structurally sound but had been the target of vandals, which was one of the reasons why he wanted it demolished, he said.

"If they didn't burn it, I would have had to tear it down myself," Gaudin said.

The training session involved lighting different sizes and types of fires in the home to show firefighters ways to attack and extinguish them, Mullendore said.

About 25 firefighters from Boonsboro, Sharpsburg, Potomac Valley and Middletown took part in the drills.

The firefighters were shown how to deal with blazes in the kitchen, living room and two bedrooms.

Mullendore said the set fires demonstrated "fire behavior," how fires react depending on what is burning, and showed the smoke they produce and resulting lack of visibility.

Homeowners interested in donating buildings to Boonsboro can contact the fire station at 301-432-2348.

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