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Fire destroys storage building

August 20, 2006|by TARA REILLY

SMITHSBURG - A two-alarm fire late Friday just outside of Smithsburg burned through the early morning hours of Saturday, destroying a wooden-frame storage building and causing $800,000 in damage.

The 200-foot-by-35-foot building near the intersection of Fruit Tree Drive and Greensburg Road is owned by Lester Oswald Jr., Maryland Deputy State Fire Marshal W. Faron Taylor said.

Oswald owns Oswald Nurseries Inc. on South Main Street in Smithsburg.

The structure's loss is valued at $700,000, while its lost contents - construction material, equipment and other items - is valued at $100,000, Taylor said.

"Everything up there was a total loss," Cathy Sacco, an employee at Oswald Nurseries, said Saturday.

It took four hours and 100 firefighters from Washington and Frederick counties and Pennsylvania to control the fire, Taylor said.

Fire investigators planned to return to the scene to look for the origin of the fire and then try to determine a cause, he said.

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Crews were called to the scene Friday just after 11:20 p.m.

By about 1:50 a.m. Saturday, the fire still was burning, casting off a red glow in the night sky. A wall of smoke could be seen rising from the structure.

Kevin Lewis, deputy director of Washington County's Department of Fire and Emergency Services, said crews were in a "defensive operation," meaning they were letting the fire burn out.

"We're protecting other exposures ... and additional fire spread," Lewis said while at the scene.

The building was fully involved when firefighters arrived. Firefighters expected to be there for several more hours, Lewis said.

There were no injuries in the fire, Lewis said.

Sacco said the storage building used to be part of Bromley Orchards.

Oswald bought it and used it to store a tractor, skid loader, chipper, seeder, mulch, straw, topsoil, and other supplies and equipment, Sacco said.

As of Saturday about 5 p.m., Sacco said the fire still was burning and smoldering.

Fire companies from Smithsburg, Mount Aetna, Leitersburg, Maugansville, Halfway, Waynesboro, Boonsboro, Wolfsville, Blue Ridge Summit, Myersville, Greencastle, Mount Alto, Marion and New Franklin responded.

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