Barn fire lights night sky

November 06, 2000

Barn fire lights night sky


CHEWSVILLE - A fire that could be seen from six miles away destroyed a barn and two outbuildings here Monday evening.

About 50 Washington County firefighters were called to 11628 Whitehall Road at 6:30 p.m. to fight the fire, said Mount Aetna Volunteer Fire Chief Terry Stouffer.

Stouffer said he was unsure what started the fire at Morningstar Manor, the home of Bill Morningstar and his family.

"When I first got there, there was heavy fire throughout the building," said Stouffer.

A downed power line that had been connected to the barn forced firefighters to avoid some areas until an Allegheny Power worker could shut off the electricity.

Stouffer said the main building was used as a workshop and sawdust or wood inside may have fueled the blaze. The other buildings were used for storage, he said.


He said it took about 45 minutes to bring the fire under control.

Flames could be seen coming from the main barn as firefighters doused it with water.

Their job was made harder by the lack of nearby fire hydrants, Stouffer said.

"It creates a problem because the closest hydrants are in Chewsville," about four miles away, Stouffer said.

Firefighters solved the problem by bringing in extra tankers to carry water to the fire and using a 2,000-gallon portable tank that resembles a square swimming pool to hold water.

Bill Morningstar and his family were eating dinner when a neighbor knocked on their door to tell them their barn was on fire, he said.

Morningstar said he ran to get his German shepherd/Chow Bailey, who was outside. The dog's doghouse was a few feet from the barn.

"There's not much left," said Morningstar as he gazed at his burning building from the front steps of the home where he was born 63 years ago.

Morningstar said his parents built the barn in the 1940s and at one point the property was farmed with a few milking cows.

He and his wife started their own Folk Art craft business 15 years ago and had been using the barns for their projects. They had just returned from selling their crafts at a large craft fair in Washington, D.C., he said.

As flames continued to ravage the barn, Morningstar quickly moved two wooden painted Santas out of harm's way.

His wife and children carried hot coffee to the firefighters as temperatures dropped to 30 degrees.

A Maryland state fire marshal was enroute to the fire scene Monday evening.

Morningstar said he has insurance on the barn.

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