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Buildings engulfed

Two-alarm fire hits complex east of city

Two-alarm fire hits complex east of city

July 14, 2002|by KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

More than 75 area firefighters were needed to fight a two-alarm fire at a complex of buildings that formerly housed a paint and glass company at Security Road and Antietam Drive just east of Hagerstown Saturday evening.

Fire broke out at the former Hagerstown Paint and Glass building complex around 8:35 p.m., according to Lt. Jason Eckstine of Long Meadow Volunteer Fire Co.

When firefighters arrived, flames and heavy smoke were coming from the building's roof on Security Road, according to Eckstine, the commander at the scene.

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The smoke from the building could be seen all the way from the Long Meadow fire station, Eckstine said.

"Almost immediately, I called for a second alarm," Eckstine said after seeing the fire ravage the four buildings of varying heights. Flames shot out from the building more than 30 feet high and smoke billowed from the roofs.

A fire marshal was called to the scene and will investigate whether the blaze is connected to fire earlier this week at an abandoned home on Needys Lane nearby, he said.

Fire spread from the building on Security Road to the other three connecting buildings, Eckstine said.

Standing at the side of her lawn at the corner of Security Road and Antietam Drive, Pearl Maloy watched firefighters try to put out the raging fire.

The fire was the largest she'd ever seen, she said.

"I was sitting in the kitchen and my son looked up and said, 'Call 911'. When we came outside, we saw flames going way up," Maloy said.

Maloy said the buildings are used for storage by a roofing company and often are the target of vandals.

"Kids go into it all the time. I hear them busting glass," she said.

Maloy said she heard explosions coming from the area of the fire shortly after her son first noticed it around 8:30 p.m.

Neighbors and firefighters gathered nearby and a Community Rescue Service ambulance was parked on her lawn.

"I don't care, just as long as my house is safe," she said.

Firefighters attacked the blaze from several different locations, shooting sprays of water at different buildings, Eckstine said.

Firefighters used chainsaws to cut limbs from overgrown trees near the entrance to the building nearest the Creekside Inn and were about to enter when Eckstine called everyone back.

"We took a defensive approach and had everyone outside," he said.

Smoke billowed from the roofs of all four buildings and the heat from the fire could be felt 75 feet away.

Firefighters had to work around a power line connected to the building until Allegheny Energy could get to the scene to shut off the power, Eckstine said.

Eckstine said he arranged a team of firefighters to rescue injured firefighters from the building as a precaution. One firefighter received a minor eye injury, Eckstine said.

No one was inside when the fire started, he said.

One of the hardest parts of fighting the fire initially was getting enough water pressure to battle the fires going on in all four buildings, Eckstine said.

Firefighters accessed two hydrants and later were able to get trucks to the scene and turned at the right angle to get the water, he said.

Nearby Antietam Creek could not be used as a water source because there was no way to access it, Eckstine said.

Eckstine said he expected firefighters to be at the scene for several hours.

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