Neighbors help clean up rubble

January 14, 2002

Neighbors help clean up rubble


Pam Crampton smiled amidst the wreckage of her home Saturday when her husband handed her the charred Civil War sword that was a gift from her father.

Then came the antique ladle that was her grandmother's. A few burned bracelets. Some coins.

More than 30 Crampton friends, relatives and neighbors turned out Saturday to help Funkstown Assistant Mayor Paul Crampton Jr. and his family clean up after the fire that destroyed their $1 million home Jan. 4.

"The support here has been overwhelming," Pam Crampton said. "It's wonderful."

The workers sifted through debris with rakes and sticks, trying to find such valuables as the sword and Pam Crampton's high school class ring. They shoveled piles of ash through screens in hopes of recovering pieces of the Cramptons' life spared by the flames.

The family was out to dinner last Friday when the blaze broke out in their 6,077-square-foot brick house at 334 E. Oak Ridge Drive, Paul Crampton said.


About 100 firefighters from Funkstown and surrounding communities battled the two-alarm blaze, but the home was destroyed and just about everything in it lost. Family photos, old videos of the children, toys and clothing.

Fire investigators on Monday cited faulty wiring as the cause of the blaze. There were no injures.

A neighbor got the Cramptons' two dogs out of the house before the roof collapsed, Paul Crampton said.

It was one act of kindness that would be followed by many, he said.

"Before I knew it, everybody was calling to see what they could do to help. It's been unbelievable," said Crampton, president of Paul Crampton Contractors.

"I really don't have the words to describe it. It's just unbelievable. We're really blessed."

On Saturday, friend Gary Rohrer, a civil engineer, inspected the home's remaining foundation and support beams for structural integrity. He pointed to a thick steel rod in a charred beam that towered over the debris like a mast on a sunken ship.

"See that, that can be saved and reused," Rohrer said. "Same with a lot of the masonry in the foundation."

The Cramptons plan to start rebuilding right away, Pam Crampton said.

Rohrer, director of the county Public Works Department, said he "put on his private citizen hat" to help the Cramptons "figure out how to put this puzzle back together."

"I've got a lot of respect for Paul. He's done a lot for this community," Rohrer said. "Seeing all these people here, it really touches your heart."

Next to an ornate fountain covered in tattered netting, family friends Sherry Buhrman and Bridget Pearl pushed brooms across the soot-covered patio surrounding the pool.

"We couldn't not be here," Buhrman said. "Paul and Pam have done so much for everybody."

Nearby, a group of men pumped black water out of a Jacuzzi. A woman dusted ashes off outdoor chairs near the surviving pool house, in which Pam Crampton set up refreshment tables.

In a wooded area behind the pool house, friend Danny Iseminger and about 10 other men painstakingly searched for valuables in a huge pile of ash and rubble that once composed the Cramptons' master bedroom.

Like searching for a needle in a haystack?

"Just like that," Iseminger said.

Dump trucks from Crampton competitor Henson & Son Contractors hauled away debris scooped out with a Henson crane from within the burned out shell of the home.

Even Rebecca Pearl, 9, volunteered her time to help her schoolmate and his family. Rebecca brought a bouquet of pink and white carnations to "brighten up their day," she said.

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