WASHINGTON COUNTY — A house near Cearfoss that had been in the same family for more than a century was destroyed by a fire Friday morning.
"I felt a little numb when I first saw it," said Don Spickler, owner of the house at 15219 Fairview Road, which is about five miles west of Cearfoss. "It's just one of those things that you obviously don't plan on happening, but all the firefighters did a great job getting the fire under control."
The house was first owned by the Shank family in 1895, but Spickler said his great-grandfather married into that family in 1897.
Spickler, who lives in Williamsport with his wife, Mary Jane, said he was renting the house to a woman, who was out of town on Friday.
Spickler said he learned of the fire when he got a call at 6:15 a.m. Friday from Washington County Emergency Services.
"We can recover from this because, thankfully, nobody was in the house when it caught fire," he said. "Life goes on."
Bruce D. Bouch, spokesman for the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office, said Friday afternoon that the cause of the fire was still under investigation. He said the damage to the structure and contents was estimated at $170,000.
Maugansville Fire Chief William Garrett said the house was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived at 5:10 a.m.
He said firefighters had to haul water in tankers from a hydrant in the Cearfoss area about five or six miles away to fight the blaze.
"The roof and the second floor and the first floor is all piled up in the basement," Garrett said as firefighters were wrapping up operations at about 8:30 a.m. "It's a total loss."
Garrett said when firefighters arrived they thought someone was inside the burning house, but later learned the person who lived there was not at home.
A large portion of the yard on the north side of the house was charred, and pieces of the roof were strewn on the ground. The charred remnants of a stove could be seen inside.
To keep the flames from spreading, Garrett said firefighters also sprayed water on a building about 10 feet away that once housed a country store.
Heat from the fire melted siding on a neighboring house, about 100 feet away.
Firefighters planned to return to the house periodically on Friday to make sure the fire did not rekindle, Garrett said.
"We'll be coming out multiple times," he said.
At least seven fire companies from Maryland and Pennsylvania battled the blaze.