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Historic tenant house damaged by fire in Williamsport

August 30, 2006

WILLIAMSPORT - The cause of a fire that broke out early this morning in an historic Williamsport farm tenant house was still under investigation by 9:30 a.m., Maryland Deputy State Fire Marshal Ed Ernst said.

When firefighters arrived at the 6 Springfield Lane house at about 1:45 a.m., they found the upstairs engulfed in flames and saw fire coming from the left side of the house through the roof, Williamsport Volunteer Fire Co. Firefighter Donny Mills said.

Mills said the house was vacant.

About 40 firefighters from Williamsport, Clear Spring, Halfway, Fairplay and Maugansville helped extinguish the flames within about 20 minutes, he said. A Williamsport firefighter suffered heat exhaustion and was transported to Washington County Hospital for treatment, Mills said.

Ernst said the fire started on the side porch. So far, damage to the building is estimated at $150,000.

Ernst said a K-9 will sniff the fire grounds today to check for accelerants. He said it was too early to tell how the fire started because the structure was still smoking at 9 a.m.

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"There's too much damage," he said.

Williamsport Town Clerk James Castle said the structure was most likely built in 1879, but the oldest part of the building dates to the late 1700s.

The building was a tenant house for nearby Springfield Barn, which is the second oldest barn in the state, he said.

The building, owned by the town, was most recently used by the Williamsport Town Museum for living history exhibits, Castle said.

He said the building is also near other outbuildings on the property.

The Washington County Rehab Unit also responded to the scene, Mills said. Crews were performing overhaul at the farmhouse until about 5:30 a.m., he said.

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