Two injured in fire at Belcamp ballistics testing company Monday

A fire at a ballistics testing company in a Belcamp business park sent two people to the hospital with minor injuries Monday morning, Harford County fire and rescue officials said.

The fire was reported shortly before 9 a.m. at Chesapeake Testing, in a building in the 4600 block of Compass Point Road, according to the Harford County Fire & EMS Association's media Facebook page. The company occupies the entire building.

Initial emergency radio dispatches said flames were showing and the fire was in one of the testing ranges inside the building.

Chesapeake Testing conducts ballistic experiments and non-destructive testing services to support munitions and protection systems, according to its website. It has eight indoor firing ranges, a drive-in range, a non-ballistic test lab and access to an outdoor range, according to the website.

A bullet catcher that caught fire, according to Chris Schuler, vice president of technical operations for Chesapeake Testing.

"It's very unusual," Schuler said via telephone. "We never had one get that much smoke."

The test round got lodged in the rubber backstop, igniting the wood structure around it, according to a notice of investigation from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Schuler said two employees got smoke in their eyes. They were taken by ambulance to University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air for evaluation and released the same day, according to the Fire Marshal's Office and a Chesapeake Testing official.

The building did not suffer extensive damage, other than requiring clean-up and moving equipment to another range, Schuler said; however, the Fire Marshal's Office estimated the damage to the building at $20,000 and damage to contents at $5,000, according to the notice of investigation.

The fire was controlled by 9:25 a.m., with 40 firefighters from Bel Air, Abingdon, Aberdeen, Susquehanna Hose of Havre de Grace and Joppa-Magnolia volunteer fire companies responding.

"After the fire departments cleared us for operations we were back at work testing for our customers in our other five ranges," business operations vice president Jerry Reynolds wrote in an email Tuesday. "And, our customer that was testing in that range was moved to our other nearby test facility where his testing was completed."

"We are very grateful to the members of the several volunteer fire departments and EMS units that responded so quickly," Reynolds added.

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