Fire destroys barn, contents

June 06, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

BOONSBORO - Part of one side wall and some beams and an overhang were all that remained Sunday morning after flames consumed a barn outside Boonsboro.

Greg Toms looked on in disbelief as firefighters sprayed water on the smouldering ruins of a bright red barn on Lemuel Lane, where he stored memorabilia and entertained friends.

"I can't believe this, all my money, all the money, all the money I spent to get this fixed," Toms said. The loss of pictures of his late father, Harley-Davidson collectibles and entertainment equipment made him "sick," he said.


Deputy State Fire Marshal Edward Ernst said Sunday night the cause of the fire appeared to be accidental, but the investigation was continuing.

According to a Washington County Emergency Services dispatcher, the fire was reported at 8:46 a.m. and the scene was cleared at 2:01 p.m.

Ernst said the fire caused about $75,000 to $100,000 in damage. The barn was a total loss, firefighters said.

Toms said he had worked for about five years to renovate the barn. He was able to save a Harley-Davidson motorcycle when neighbors first alerted him to the fire, but he said he believed his father's hunting rifle and collection of Indian arrowheads were lost.

He believed some four-wheelers also were destroyed, he said.

A stairway still descended from the area where Toms had built a second-floor apartment above the barn.

Pat Warner, a firefighter with First Hose Co. of Boonsboro, said one side of the barn was fully engulfed by flames when firefighters arrived.

Vehicles from Williamsport, Mount Aetna, Fairplay, Washington County Emergency Services, Funkstown, Smithsburg, Boonsboro, Frederick, Md., Middletown, Md., Jefferson County, W.Va., and Shepherdstown, W.Va., all responded to scene.

With temperatures around 80 degrees and high humidity, firefighters frequently rotated away from the fire scene.

The heat was so intense that it melted the white vinyl siding of a building across from the barn on the other side of a driveway where fire vehicles were parked.

Warner said firefighters had to rotate tankers because they ran short of water. A pool about 100 yards from the barn was inaccessible.

"We had a water source problem where we didn't have enough water to fight that much fire that was here at one time," Warner said.

Warner said firefighters had to abandon their efforts temporarily when the fire ignited ammunition Toms had stored in the barn.

"When you've got ammo going off, and the roof starts coming down, that's when you start pulling firefighters out," he said.

According to Warner, one firefighter was treated at the scene for an ember burn to the neck.

First Hose Co. Assistant Chief Vernon Brown said about 50 firefighters responded to the scene. No one was transported to the hospital for injuries, Brown said.

"He can replace the barn, but he can't replace somebody's life. No. 1 good thing: nobody got hurt," Brown said.

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