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No cause established in George Street fire

February 01, 2000|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

The cause of a fire that destroyed a George Street duplex and damaged another Monday evening remained undetermined Tuesday, according to John Hersh, a Hagerstown fire marshal.

Hersh said he spent several hours at the fire scene at 620-622 George St. Tuesday but would investigate further.

The fire, which is believed to have started at 620 George St., spread to the connecting unit at 622. Heavy winds blew flames toward the neighboring building at 616-618 George St. around 7:30 p.m.

Nine people were left homeless in the blaze, which took firefighters from 22 area companies about two hours to extinguish. No one was injured in the fire.

Flames damaged the roof of 616-618 George St. and the building sustained smoke and water damage, firefighters said.

Hersh said he will examine the rear of 620-622 George St., where the roof, attic and second story collapsed.

If he concludes his investigation after that, the condemned 620-622 George St., will be torn down immediately.

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The building, which is owned by Thomas Reilly and was occupied by his family, was a total loss, he said.

The damage to 616-618 George St., which is owned and rented out by Doug Diehl of Smithsburg, can be repaired, said Hersh.

Neighbors stood outside their homes on George Street Tuesday afternoon watching as workers nailed boards over the windows of 620-622 George St.

A charred baby carriage and melted pieces of siding from the home littered the sidewalk and the narrow area between the burned homes.

A blackened screen door belonging to one of the homes was on top of a snow pile near 616-618 George St.

Officials with the American Red Cross were at the scene before the fire was out Monday evening.

Cindy Blackstock Kline, director of Emergency Services for the Red Cross, said she has been in contact with the families and the organization will do what it can to help.

"When we go to the site we consider their immediate needs - do they have food, clothing, shelter? That can be extended after they have established a permanent residence if furnishings are needed," she said.

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