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Jefferson Boulevard fire disrupts phone service to 1,400 people

September 25, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

A Tuesday morning house fire on Jefferson Boulevard affected not only the homeowner, but about 1,400 people whose telephone service - including 911 - was disrupted when the fire burned through two aerial fiber optic cables.

The two-story wood frame home of Donald Lee Curfman at 21532 Jefferson Blvd. was destroyed in the 6:10 a.m. blaze, which investigators with the Maryland State Fire Marshal's office said began in the living room.

The loss was estimated at $50,000, said Allen Gosnell, spokesman for the fire marshal's office. The cause was under investigation.

"The fire also burnt through a small copper cable as well as the two aerial fiber optic cables, which serve more than 1,400 customers, mostly in the Highfield (241) exchange area," said Sandra Arnette, spokeswoman for Verizon Communications in Baltimore.

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Arnette said some customers in Smithsburg, Thurmont, Md., Walkersville, Md., and Hagers-town were also affected.

"All but a handful were back in service by 1 p.m.," Arnette said.

Bardona Woods, assistant chief of Washington County Fire and Rescue Communications, said some people in the affected areas got through to 911 on cellular telephones.

During the blackout period, emergency personnel were sent to the fire and ambulance halls in the affected areas in case people called or showed up there in emergencies, Woods said.

The fire was discovered by a passer-by. Approximately 35 firefighters turned out from Smithsburg, Leitersburg, Mount Aetna, Funkstown and the Washington County Air and Rehab units.

"I understand that Curfman hasn't lived in the house since an accident he was in recently," Gosnell said. "He is supposed to be living with a relative in West Virginia."

That Aug. 22 accident sent Curfman to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore for a number of days. Two women in the other vehicle died in that accident.

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