Sunday, March 24, 2019 by Kevin Dayhoff
The recent arrival of spring has kept Carroll County firefighters and emergency responders busy with a number of recent serious house fires in the area. On Sunday the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal reported, “Deputy State Fire Marshals … stay busy Saturday with a total of three investigations in less than sixteen hours…”
That was before yet another house fire occurred on Sunday afternoon. Firefighters from Carroll and Baltimore Counties responded to a report to the Carroll County Emergency Communications Center of a house fire in the 2800 block of Armacost Avenue, off of Old Westminster Pike and Route 140, in Finksburg, at approximately 2 o’clock.
Over 50 firefighters from Westminster, Reese, Pleasant Valley, Gamber, Hampstead, and Sykesville companies were dispatched in addition to firefighters from Reisterstown, Owings Mills, Franklin, Chestnut Ridge, and Glyndon in Baltimore County according to Gamber Fire Company assistant Chief Alan Barnes. The Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal and Baltimore Gas and Electric also responded and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office provided assistance.
It was reported that the smoke from the fire was visible from as far away as across the reservoir in Baltimore County. Upon arrival, Barnes discovered active fire coming from the rear of a two-story single family home with a basement. The family was home at the time. According to Gamber PIO Clay Myers, the family was in the basement at the time of the fire and managed to safely escape.
A rapid intervention dispatch and a water tanker taskforce was immediately requested by Barnes. Myers reported that “Tankers from several companies set up a water shuttle and a draft site was established at Dede Road.”
The fire quickly spread throughout the house. The fire was brought under control 45-minutes later at approximately 2:45 p.m. No firefighters were injured fighting the fire. The fire remains under investigation by the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal.
The fire is estimated to have caused $250,000.00 worth of damage to the structure and another $125,000.00 damage to the contents of the house. Observations from the street indicate that the house is a total loss. Friends and neighbors gathered quickly to assist and support the displaced family.
“This is about the third house fire in the Finksburg – Gamber area in the past several days,” said Barnes during the extensive cleanup after the fire. Fire crews stayed at the fire ground for about two-hours assisting the homeowners and the fire marshals; and cleaning-up and putting away equipment.
Other recent fires include a garage fire in the 1000 block of Cindy Lane in Westminster on March 23. That fire caused an estimated $25,000.00 in damage Approximately 40 firefighters fought the blaze. The lead fire company at that fire was the Gamber and Community Fire Company.
On March 20, a fire occurred at a two-story vacant home in the 2900 block of Hughes Rod in Finksburg, causing approximately $60,000.00 in damage. Again, the Gamber fire company was the lead agency fighting that fire. About 30 firefighters responded. It took over 30-minutes to put out that fire.
Many folks on social media have been alarmed by the recent number of fires. One comment, “omg what is causing all these fires,” was reflective of many of the responses to the recent house fires. All the recent fires remain under investigation by the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal. Firefighters at the fire on Sunday afternoon, who have responded to all the recent fires, said on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment, that all the fires appeared to be vastly different in origin and no pattern could be detected. It just seemed to be a statistical anomaly – a coincidence. No one seemed alarmed – just very hungry, dirty, and tired.
“The fire service reminds folks to stay vigilant about fire safety and be sure that your smoke alarms are properly functioning,” said Barnes as he was leaving the scene. A point that was reinforced in a phone interview with Gamber PIO Bruce Bouch, who wanted to remind citizens that you can never let your guard down when it comes to fire safety. Westminster fire company officials also cautioned folks to stay fire safe as the weather gets warmer and people get busier outdoors.
Times correspondent Kevin Dayhoff is also the chaplain, assistant secretary, and PIO for the Westminster Fire Engine and Hose Co. No. 1.
A family escaped from a blaze that seriously damaged a Finksburg home on Sunday, March 24. No injuries were reported to civilians or firefighters.
“This is about the third house fire in the Finksburg–Gamber area in the past several days,” said Gamber Fire Company Assistant Chief Alan Barnes during the extensive cleanup after the fire. Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire said that the fires are completely unrelated and are being investigated separately.