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Fire at pesticide storage facility reroutes traffic

April 14, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

FREDERICK, Md. - Heavy smoke from a two-alarm fire at a pest control storage building caused traffic on nearby U.S. 15 to be detoured as a precaution for more than three hours Saturday morning, officials said.

The Home-Paramount Pest Control building at the intersection of U.S. 15 and Devilbiss Bridge Road north of Frederick contained pesticides, said Assistant Fire Chief Doug Riddle with the Lewistown District Volunteer Fire Department.

The Maryland State Fire Marshal's office was investigating the cause of the fire, which destroyed the 4,000-square foot garage/storage building, spokesman Allen Gosnell said. The estimated loss was $250,000, he said.

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Maryland Department of the Environment officials determined the fire was not a threat to public safety, spokesman Richard McIntire said. There were small amounts of rather innocuous pesticides, he said.

Approximately 60 to 70 firefighters responded to the 6:26 a.m. fire and had it under control within 45 minutes, Riddle said. Responding units included Walkersville, Frederick, New Midway, Thurmont and Fort Detrick.

Firefighters backed off putting more water on the fire until environmental officials gave the go ahead around 10:30 a.m., Riddle said. Then it took firefighters about 20 minutes to extinguish the fire, he said.

McIntire said some chemicals react to water. In addition, environmental officials wanted to minimize runoff. The department's hazardous waste division will investigate whether the chemicals were properly stored, he said.

A woman who answered the phone at Home-Paramount's nearby Devilbiss Bridge Road office said no one there had any comment on the fire.

There were five vehicles inside Home-Paramount's storage building at 7616 Devilbiss Bridge Road, Riddle said.

No one was injured, Riddle said.

The Frederick County Hazmat Unit and Fort Detrick Hazmat decontaminated firefighters at the scene, Riddle said.

Riddle said firefighters were going to evacuate a nearby business as a precaution, but the business was closed.

Maryland State Police and the Frederick County Sheriff's Department assisted with detours.

Starting around 6:45 a.m. the northbound lanes of U.S. 15 were shut down as a precaution because of the smoke, State Police Sgt. Robert Reid said.

Northbound traffic was rerouted to the southbound lanes of U.S. 15 and southbound traffic was redirected to Hansonville Road, Reid said.

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