TANEYTOWN - A coat hid Boyd Valley's two bandaged forearms as he stood a ways from the orange flames, watching as they engulfed his workplace, Chaz's Used Auto Parts and Towings' hangar north of Taneytown, Wednesday afternoon.
Firefighters from Carroll, Frederick and Adams County, Pa., were fighting the blaze that started at about 11:49 a.m., according to Brett Six, Taneytown fire company's assistant fire chief, and was contained at about 2:30 p.m.
There was too much fire to venture inside the hangar, which housed thousands of dollars of equipment now destroyed along with the building.
The estimated loss is $350,000, according to a Taneytown fire company news release. The 80-by-150-foot building did not have sprinklers, the release stated. The Maryland State Highway Administration and Fire Marshal arrived on scene, and the Fire Marshal is investigating the incident.
During the afternoon, fire trucks zoomed along Md. 140 to and from the city, gathering the needed water to fight the fire, Six said. The billowing smoke looked like a dark, low-hanging cloud in a primarily blue and white sky.
As Valley watched the commotion, he recalled the incident that ignited the blaze at the building in the 6000 block of Taneytown Pike and the cause of the minor burns on each of his forearms - the only injuries anyone sustained during the incident.
Valley was working on a Subaru inside the building, which consisted of two garages used to dismantle cars and some office space. The Subaru was on a car lift, and gas from the tank was dripping into a bucket below, Valley said.
Gas must have splattered onto his battery-powered drill, he said, because that would explain what happened when he went to turn it on.
"The next thing I knew it was up in flames," he said.
In the office portion of the building, employee Kody Rogall wondered why smoke was coming out of the vents. He and several co-workers opened the door to the garage, where Valley and another employee were working.
"We started screaming, 'Everyone get the hell out,'" Rogall said.
The handful of people inside exited, according to Rogall.
"In a matter of 15 minutes," he said, "everything was engulfed."
The Taneytown fire company was the first to respond, according to Six, and arrived on scene at 11:58, according to the release. Nine engines, two trucks, six tankers and two EMS units responded to the scene, the release states.
In its wake, it obliterated equipment that owner and manager Chaz Walls said costs thousands of dollars. There's the welding equipment, two automobile lifts and at least four tool boxes that were entrapped inside the burning building.
Walls' father bought the space on the 6000 block of Taneytown Pike in 1986, and it was called Martell's Used Auto Parts. In July 1995, Walls took over, hence the name change of the business that has 22 employees.
It was an airport hangar back in the day, including during World War II, Walls said.
"It's really a shame to lose that building because it was a really a big icon," he said. "It has a lot of good history behind it. My whole family's upset about it."
Starting tomorrow, Walls will meet with the insurance company, and the rebuilding process will begin.