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Clear Spring residents deal with fire's destruction

Fire officials still investigating cause of blaze

July 30, 2010|By DAN DEARTH
  • From left, Beth Fields, Carrie Yeakle, Barbara Hildebrand and Lisa Catalano look at a photo Friday that was retrieved from a relative's home that burned Thursday in Clear Spring.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer,

oClear Spring fire slide show

CLEAR SPRING -- Dot Blevins said a fire that tore through three row houses Thursday in Clear Spring destroyed more than material possessions.

It also destroyed almost a lifetime of memories.

"When I came last night and saw it, I just broke down," she said.

Blevins said her late sister, Mary Lou Mundey, lived in the house at 115 Cumberland St. for 50 years until she died in May.

Water still dripped from the ceiling Friday morning as Blevins and some of her relatives walked through the charred remains looking for anything salvageable.

"It was a total loss," she said.

Firefighters from the Clear Spring and Long Meadow fire departments remained on the scene Friday morning and into the afternoon helping Maryland state fire marshals investigate the scene.

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Fire Marshal Ed Ernst said officials weren't certain what caused the fire, but they believed it started in a vacant house at 113 Cumberland St. and quickly spread to homes on each side.

"We're still trying to piece everything together," Ernst said. "We're just going through our investigation process."

The absence of firewalls between the houses, which were built in the 19th century, allowed the flames to travel from building to building, he said.

Michael Reid, chief of the Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Co., said 111, 113 and 115 Cumberland St. were severely damaged. He said 117 Cumberland St. sustained minor damage and was turned back over to the owner.

The total financial loss associated with the fire was estimated at $500,000, according to a press release from the fire marshal's office. More than 100 firefighters responded from Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Megan Robinson of 109 Cumberland St. said she received a text at work Thursday that the buildings next to her apartment were on fire. She said she left around 6 p.m. and drove home.

"When I came up to Huyetts Crossroads, I could smell the smoke," she said. "When I got up close, I could see the flames."

Robinson said the first thing she did was text her parents to rescue her dog.

"She was fine," Robinson said of the dog. "She was out back worked up and just scared to death."

Robinson said she believed an 8-foot space between her building and 111 Cumberland St. spared her apartment.

"I was nervous," she said. "I never experienced anything like this before."

Robinson said she didn't have renter's insurance at the time of the fire, but she plans to get it as soon as possible.

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