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$750,000 fire destroys vacant house near Highfield

December 31, 2007|By HEATHER KEELS

HIGHFIELD ? A Maryland fire marshal said Monday morning that he still doesn't know who owns the vacant house near Highfield that burned down Sunday night in a fire that caused about $750,000 in damage.

Ed Ernst said by telephone at 9 a.m. that he learned last night from neighbors that there had been some work going on in the house earlier in the day.

"There was so much steam and smoke last night, I couldn't see anything," Ernst said. His first goal today is to find the owners.

The 10-room, two-story house at 14418 Water Company Road caught fire at about 7:30 p.m., said Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co. Assistant Chief Chuck Johnson. By the time the first firefighters arrived, the house had begun to collapse and the heat and smoke were so widespread that there was nothing to do but allow the fire to burn itself out, Johnson said.

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No one was injured, he said. The home had been for sale, and Johnson said he thought it had recently been purchased and had been gutted for a renovation project.

The home is off Hilltop Road, off Md. 550 in the far northwestern regions of Washington County near the former Fort Ritchie Army base.

About 45 firefighters from five companies assisted with the fire, and firefighters were on the scene for about three hours, Johnson said. As of 11 p.m., the foundation of the house was still burning, he said.

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