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State, county pledge help to Boonsboro

February 23, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

BOONSBORO -- When Debra Smith arrived at work Friday about 7:45 a.m. she saw flames spreading from a nearby building toward Boonsboro's Town Hall.

Smith, the town manager, said she and a town clerk immediately started moving records and historical documents from the building.

"We were just grabbing everything we could," she said.

The pair quickly was joined by town residents who offered help to fill vehicles with the documents, filing cabinets, computers and boxes of other items. The group also moved items from the town's library next door.

Both buildings were untouched by the flames, but did have some smoke damage.

Boonsboro Mayor Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman Jr. said residents offered their support to the town throughout the day that ended in the loss of at least one downtown building.

The fire started at 1 N. Main St., which once housed the historic Boone Hotel, and spread to neighboring buildings.

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State Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, said he learned about the fire Friday morning after a phone call from County Administrator Gregory Murray and from reports he read on The Herald-Mail Web site. Shank said he then called Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley to inform him.

O'Malley then called Kauffman to offer support.

"I'm very grateful to (O'Malley) for stepping up to offer that assistance," Shank said. "I'm sure the town is going to need it. This is obviously a very devastating fire. It's going to be a long road to recovery."

Boonsboro Councilman Kevin M. Chambers said officials would likely wait to assess the damage before thinking about rebuilding.

Shank said state aid could include assistance with economic development, housing and community development programs. He said O'Malley has pledged to assist the town.

A team of officials from several state agencies will be in Boonsboro on Monday to assess damage, Kauffman said Friday evening.

"That community means a lot to me," said Shank, who moved furniture into his new office in the Town Hall on Thursday. "I'm just anguished by what happened today."

Washington County Commissioners President John F. Barr was in Boonsboro to offer support, along with Murray.

"We're offering assistance," he said. "Whatever they need."

He said the county could help with clean-up, demolition, technology assistance, storage or office space

"It's unfortunate," Barr said. "The town of Boonsboro needs our support."

Kauffman said Friday that he appreciated the support of area mayors, county and state officials.

He also said the town was grateful for the response of area firefighters, who quickly controlled the fire.

"The effort of fire and rescue (personnel) today has been outstanding," Kauffman said.

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