'Bad, real bad'
Tammy Fitzgerald, who lives on Main Street in Port Deposit, didn't see the crash, but she and her husband were coming into town within minutes, seconds even, of it happening.
"It was bad, real bad," Fitzgerald said around midnight Friday.
"We were coming down [Route] 222 into town. There were two pickup trucks ahead of us that stopped," Fitzgerald, who was driving, said. "I saw lights, but I thought maybe something happened and [fire] trucks were already down there. The closer we got I could hear a boom."
The driver front of them turned around and said, "It's bad, it's bad," she said.
Fitzgerald, who works for the Harford County State's Attorney's Office at the Family Justice Center in Bel Air, said she stood there for a minute then wondered if anyone had called 911 and decided to call herself.
She said she started to go down Route 222 to where it meets Main Street at the curve and that's when she realized there was fire.
"It was a gigantic fireball. Flames were going up the sides of the radio tower on the corner. As I came around the curve, I heard two more booms and realized the power lines were on fire," she said.
There is a house and trailer on the corner of the curve. Fitzgerald and her husband thought they were empty, but they weren't 100 percent sure and wanted to be able to help if someone was living in either.
Her husband was going down toward the homes through weeds and along a tree line to stay as far away from fire as he could, she said. Another man who was ahead of her husband was running back up the hill yelling "go, go, go," she said.
"As my husband started back up hill, I heard the biggest explosion that I had heard up to that point," Fitzgerald said. "I actually could feel the heat off that one. My husband said in the moment he thought he was a goner."
That was about the time they saw the first emergency vehicle responding.
"It's so incredibly sad for whoever was in that truck, if he really didn't get out," she said.
As Fitzgerald and her husband were heading back to their van, another tanker truck was coming down the hill, and all they could think of was that they had to stop it before it ran "down around the curve and into the huge fire," whose flames she said had to be at least three stories in the air.
Having just gone through an eerily similar experience not 10 days earlier, Fitzgerald was concerned about getting to her house, so after warning several cars not to go into town, she and her husband turned around to try and get back into town on Route 276, "before they shut everyone down."
"It's so bizarre for all this to happen in such a short period of time. People drive way too fast, just way too fast. You're coming down that hill on 222 at Main at the marina. At least several times a week someone is coming in my lane around that curve," she said.
"I hope all the firefighters are OK. It's going to a long night for them again," she added.
'Horrific ball of fire'
Harford County Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti was having dinner with her boyfriend at a restaurant on Main Street when the lights went out in the restaurant.
"I thought it was a normal power outage," Lisanti, who lives on the opposite side of the river in Havre de Grace, said Saturday morning. Soon, the wait staff was putting candles on the tables. "About that time someone came in and said a house was on fire down the street," she said.
Lisanti and her boyfriend went outside to have a look and were in disbelief at what they saw.
"It was the most enormous red ball of fire, a horrific ball of fire," she said. "It was shooting four stories into the air and not just straight up, but from the sides."
More people began pouring out from the restaurants and stood around Main Street watching the fire.
"It was one of those situations, just by the nature of the colors and intensity of the heat, I know it wasn't a regular house fire," Lisanti said.
The councilwoman and other patrons began spreading the word that there was a dangerous situation and everyone should get out of the area.
A few good Samaritans were getting people out of restaurants, as the town was still pitch dark, and others directed traffic to clear the way for emergency vehicles and get people out safely, Lisanti said.
Amid the craziness, most people kept their composure and didn't panic, she added.
"I've been in a lot of emergency situations," Lisanti said. "You react. You don't panic. My instinct was to make sure everyone around me was safe and recognized the presence of danger."