Early morning fire claims the life of a shopkeeper. One firefighter hospitalized.
By Westminster Fire Department PIO and Chaplain Kevin Dayhoff
Westminster Md., Monday, December 12, 2022 – – Over 100 firefighters from throughout Carroll County, in addition to firefighter units from Frederick and Baltimore County and Adams and York County Pa., responded to an early morning fire in the unit block of West Main Street in Westminster.
As a result of the fire, a shopkeeper, Bradley White, 55, the owner of White’s Bicycles was found dead, and one firefighter was taken to Carroll Hospital for treatment. “The severity of those injuries was not known as of Monday afternoon,” according to Westminster Fire Department public information officer Robin Stansbury
According to Westminster Mayor Dr. Mona Becker, “The bicycle shop has been a fixture of Main Street for several decades. The fire is a real tragedy.”
Tony Chiavacci, Westminster Common Councilmember and Public Safety Chair agreed, “The fire – it’s devastating, just heartbreaking, Brad White was a phenomenal guy. Everybody in the community knows him.”
This is the second fire fatality to have occurred in Carroll County in recent weeks. On Sunday afternoon, November 27, 2022, Ronald Joy, 62, a Pleasant Valley man died in a fire in the 2700 block of Littlestown Pike just north of Westminster. https://dayhoffwestminster.blogspot.com/2022/11/fatal-carroll-county-house-fire-nov-28.html
A number of serious fires have occurred in Carroll County this fall that have required the response of a large number of firefighters, first responders and equipment. Approximately 80 firefighters and 25 pieces of firefighting equipment from Carroll, Baltimore, and Frederick county fire departments responded to a building fire at the Westminster Wakefield Valley Park late Thursday morning, November 17, 2022 – https://www.facebook.com/kevindayhoff/posts/pfbid02JJuiAe7qDcHroqcjAdaFtfkMs4tihUk7m2vp9JtAk8FaxG4y9qJ3wNBAPSauv7B2l
Upon arrival, the Westminster Fire Department found fire showing from the roof line of the historic three-story 1767 Durbin House – https://dayhoffwestminster.blogspot.com/2022/12/stubborn-fire-damages-historic.html
The first call for the report of a building fire in the historic downtown Westminster business district, came in to the Emergency Communications Center at 5:18 a.m. Upon arrival units from New Windsor, Reese and Westminster fire departments found fire and heavy smoke evident within the building – coming from White’s bicycle shop, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Westminster responded quickly to the scene because the rear of the bicycle shop is adjacent to the Westminster fire station at 28 John Street. Westminster immediately began assisting with evacuating residents from the ten apartments above the business on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the building.
Firefighters from Reese and New Windsor with assistance from Pleasant Valley immediately began an interior fire suppression attack from the front the building – on West Main Street. Additional units responded from Gamber and surrounding fire companies to assist.
“Firefighters continued their search,” according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, (OSFM) “and subsequently located … White inside. Firefighters pulled him from the building, and EMS began CPR. He was transported to Carroll Hospital, where he was later pronounced deceased.”
The sprinklers that had been retroactively installed a number of years ago in the historic building that dates back to 1885, were activated by the fire.
According to the OSFM deputy fire marshals, “along with the Westminster Police Department, have been working throughout the morning to determine the cause of the fire. Deputy State Fire Marshals have preliminarily determined the fire originated within the office of the bike shop.
“During their investigation, they discovered evidence White was living inside the business. And while the building was equipped with an automated fire sprinkler system, it was determined the office had no sprinkler coverage.
“Investigators have concluded once the fire spread from the office, the fire was extinguished by fire sprinklers, allowing the 30 tenants above the bicycle shop and the adjoining apartments above Johansson’s Dining House to escape safely, and no injuries were reported,” said the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office. “The sprinklers saved lives,” according to Westminster Fire Department Chief Jeff Leppert.
“Most of the tenants are displaced and will be assisted by the Red Cross,” said the OSFM. “Carroll County Building and Fire inspectors are assisting OSFM Fire Safety Inspectors in addressing non-related fire and safety code issues in both buildings. A joint investigation between the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the local police agency is a standard operating procedure for a fatal fire.”
The fire was declared under control at 6:34, according to Stansbury. The fire remains under investigation. Most of the tenants that were displaced from their apartments as a result of the fire are being assisted by the Red Cross, according to Stansbury and Valerie D. Hawkins, Carroll County Emergency Management Manager.
“The Westminster Fire Department would like to thank Chick-fil-A and BJ’s Wholesale Club for donating food following the fire this morning. Their generosity was greatly appreciated by all,” according to Bridget Weishaar, the Westminster Fire Department Recruitment & Retention Coordinator.
The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office, Westminster Firefighter and PIO Robin Stansbury, the Westminster Police Department, Mike Robinson, the Carroll County Director of Fire and EMS, Valerie D. Hawkins, Carroll County Emergency Management Manager, and Tony Chiavacci, Westminster Common Councilmember and Public Safety Chair, assisted in putting this report together.