Carroll firefighters stay busy battling weekend blazes

Mount Airy House Fire - Falling Green Way.  Fire through the roof. 1 alarm plus tanker task force and Rapid Intervention Dispatch.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office and local firefighters are urging safe fire and heating practices after Carroll County firefighters battled a number of blazes across the county this weekend in continued frigid temperatures.

At about 1:21 p.m. Sunday, 60 firefighters were called to a house fire in Mount Airy. The fire began in the roof and attic of the two-story home in the 3700 block of Falling Green Way, according to the Notice of Investigation from the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal.


No one was injured in the blaze, though it caused an estimated structure loss of $150,000, and an estimated loss of $25,000 in contents, according to the notice. It took 60 firefighters about an hour to put the fire out.

The preliminary cause of the blaze is believed to be accidental due to a chimney fire that extended into the roof and attic, according to the notice.

Doug Alexander, of the Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company, said that in situations like this, the chimney has a buildup of creosote, causing it to catch fire.

Alexander said it’s a “miracle in itself” that there were no injuries, because it’s hard to battle a fire in the cold temperatures that Carroll saw over the weekend. Water that hit the house kept freezing, he added.

“This particular house gave us a challenge,” he said.

Alexander stressed the importance of getting chimneys swept and checked each year in September or October. He also said burning wood that is very dry can help keep the creosote from building up as much, and it’s important to make sure the fire is under control.

About an hour after the Mount Airy fire, at about 2:45 p.m. Sunday, firefighters were called to another fire, this one in the unit block of East Baltimore Street in Taneytown, according to the notice of investigation.

No one was injured, according to the notice. It took 90 firefighters about two hours to put out the blaze, according to the notice, and it caused an estimated structure loss of $250,000, and an estimated $50,000 in content loss.

Preliminary cause is believed to be accidental due to the thawing of pipes, according to the notice. Occupants safely escaped, and according to the notice, are being assisted by the Red Cross.

Mike Glass, of the Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company, said there were actually two fires at that property Sunday. The first was a small fire, put out by the tenant and landlord. While Glass said the fire department was called for the first fire, he doesn’t know what they did at that time.

Shortly after, there was a larger fire and the department came and battled that blaze, Glass said. He could not provide additional information about the second fire.

Oliver Alkire, a public information officer with the fire marshal’s office, said a salamander heater was being used to try to thaw the pipes.

Alkire said during this time of year, these types of fires can be common, but there are some steps people can take to help prevent them from happening.

After cleaning out ashes from a fireplace or wood stove, Alkire said, people should put the discarded ashes in a metal bucket away from their house. He echoed Alexander, and said citizens should also regularly maintain and clean their chimneys and flues, and have a professional check them each year.


If someone is using an alternate heat source, like space heaters, the source needs to be kept at least 3 feet away from anything combustible, like couches and blankets, Alkire said, and a stove should never be used to heat the home. If using a space heater, he added, it’s important to make sure they’re turned off before leaving the room or going to bed.

When trying to thaw pipes, Alkrie said the fire marshal’s office encourages people to use caution when using alternative heat sources, and if possible, to get someone trained to fix the problem.

“Leave it to the professionals to come out,” he said.

In addition to Sunday’s house fires, Saturday saw a shed fire in the 2600 block of Basehores Mill Road in Westminster, and Friday morning there was a house fire in Sykesville.

At about 1:10 p.m. Saturday, firefighters were called to the Westminster property for an 8-by-12-foot shed on fire, according to the notice of investigation. No one was injured, and the blaze caused an estimated $10,000 in structure loss. It took 10 firefighters about 14 minutes to control the fire, according to the notice.

The preliminary cause is under investigation, according to the notice.

On Friday, a fire occurred in the 4000 block of Bushey Road and resulted in an estimated $300,000 of damage. Approximately $250,000 of the damage occurred to the structure and $50,000 to the contents of the single-family home in Sykesville. The occupants exited the home safely and no injuries were reported.

The fire originated in the chimney, according to the report. About 50 firefighters from the Winfield Volunteer Fire Company and others controlled the fire in 30 minutes.

And on Monday morning, firefighters from the Union Bridge Volunteer Fire Company were called to the 800 block of Bucher John Road for a chimney fire, Perry Jones, public information officer for the fire company, said.

The fire company was dispatched at about 8:31 a.m., he said, and when they arrived on scene, smoke and flames were coming out of the chimney. Inside the house there was some smoke, he added, and the wall was very warm.

Firefighters extinguished the fire from the roof, he said. The blaze appeared to have been caused by build up in the chimney, which needed to be cleaned, Jones said.