Clear Spring rallies to help fire victims

January 11, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

CLEAR SPRING - Krista Bonds' eyes filled with tears as she stood in her mother's dining room Monday afternoon surveying the piles of clothing, toys, food and water donated to her family following the fire that destroyed her home, damaged four other buildings and killed her pets Sunday.

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"We are so grateful to everyone. We have just been bombarded with clothes. You can tell some of them were people's Christmas gifts. They still have the tags on them," she said.

Bonds had dropped off her four children with friends and was out running errands with her husband Timothy in Hagerstown when the blaze erupted at her home around 10 a.m.

"A friend called us on a cell phone at the store and told us about the fire. We left everything in the cart and drove home," she said.


The 15-minute drive from Hagerstown to Clear Spring seemed to take hours, she said.

"I just kept telling my husband, 'it's just material things, it's just material things,'" she said.

They could see heavy smoke in the sky miles before they reached their home, she said.

Krista Bonds, 30, her husband Timothy, 32, and children Lauren, 8, Derek, 4, Morgan, 2 and Joe, 17 months, had moved into 120 Cumberland St. in August.

"We were still living out of boxes," said Timothy Bonds, a correctional officer at the Maryland Correctional Training Center.

A Maryland State Fire Marshal said Monday the blazed started when a wood stove in the rear of the home overheated and ignited nearby combustibles.

Firefighters from across the Tri-State area worked for almost two hours to contain the blaze, which damaged two other homes and two businesses.

They included:

* 118 Cumberland St., a home believed to be owned by a member of the Bonds family.

* 122 Cumberland St., which houses C&C's Pub.

* 124 Cumberland St., the home of Clear Spring Vice Mayor Julianna Albowicz.

* 126 Cumberland St., which houses Hoff Liquors, owned by Albowicz.

Investigators estimated fire damage at $250,000.

Krista Poffenberger, 31, Tony Poffenberger, 34, and their son Colby, 5, who rented the apartment above C&C's Pub at 122 Cumberland St., were also displaced.

The Poffenbergers lost mostly clothes and toys in the fire and feel fortunate they have renter's insurance, Krista Poffenberger said.

They are staying with relatives in Clear Spring and eventually will move to an apartment above Ernst's Market in Clear Spring, where Krista Poffenberger works.

Smoke from a vent

The Poffenbergers were downstairs at C&C's Pub, where Krista's mother is a manager, when they saw smoke pouring from a vent.

"We thought it was coming from the ceiling so my husband got a flashlight and was checking the ceiling tiles," she said.

Her biggest fear was that the Bonds might be inside, she said.

None of the residents was injured in the fire but at least two firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation and one injured his back.

The Bonds' 2-year-old Rottweiler, Pooh Bear, and 4-year-old Golden Retriever, Sable, and pet lizards died in the fire.

The Bonds in August had moved to the Cumberland Street house, which had been the home of her late grandmother. The house is owned by Carlene Staley, Krista Bonds' mother.

The pre-Civil War brick home had been in the family for three generations and had once been the home of local painter and historian Maxine Brown.

The home and its contents were destroyed, said Krista Bonds, who is employed by the U.S. Census Bureau.

"It sunk in last night when I went to comb my hair out and realized I didn't even have a brush or a pick. So I just went to bed. It's the little stuff that really catches you," Krista Bonds said.

Some of Maxine Brown's paintings were destroyed in the fire along with some handpainted ornaments she made for her grandchildren.

Bonds said she has fond memories of visiting her grandmother at the home when she was growing up.

Her family put their Hagerstown home up for sale and moved back to Clear Spring because she loved the town and wanted to be near other family members, she said.

The American Red Cross arrived even before the fire was out, Krista Bonds said. Agency personnel provided the family with vouchers for food and personal care items.

The Clear Spring Ministerium offered prayers and set up a fund for the families. Monetary donations can be sent to the Rev. Elaine Prince, c/o Family Fund, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 189, Clear Spring, MD 21722.

The Clear Spring Food Bank also helped out with donations as did town residents, she said.

"I want to express my sincere thanks to everybody. It's so overwhelming. It makes my heart flow," Krista Bonds said.

The Bonds and Poffenbergers said they were grateful for the donations but asked that the public not bring more clothes because they have no room to store them.

The town of Clear Spring provided the Bonds and Poffenbergers with extra time to pay utility bills if necessary, she said.

"I really feel the whole town is behind us," Krista Bonds said.

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