Fire destroys empty house near Hampstead

Fire destroyed a vacant stone farmhouse near Hampstead last night, said Capt. Richard Yingling of the Hampstead volunteer fire company.

Nobody was injured in the one-alarm blaze at 3617 Saint Paul Road, Captain Yingling said.


He said the fire was considered suspicious.

A state fire marshal went to the scene to investigate the fire but could not be reached for comment on its cause last night.


The fire was reported by a neighbor about 5:30 p.m., said Viola Brooks, who co-owned the two-story house with her son George.

"Either kids set it, or deer hunters," said George Brooks. He said the house had been vandalized before.

Whoever started the fire had to walk the length of the driveway, which was approximately 1,000 feet long, to get to the house, Mr. Brooks said.

He said the driveway had been closed off with a cable.

"Kids have been known to hang out and party in the building," Captain Yingling said.

Ms. Brooks said a barn on the property was destroyed in an arson fire in the mid-1960s.

About 75 firefighters from Hampstead, Arcadia, Reese and Boring battled the blaze, Captain Yingling said.

Ten vehicles responded, including three "brush trucks."


Captain Yingling said the brush trucks were requested because the home was located in woods at the end of the long, rough driveway.

The small, four-wheel drive brush trucks maneuver more easily than conventional fire engines, he said.

The fire did not spread to a nearby shed or to the woods that surround the house.

While fighting the blaze, firefighters discovered a cornerstone that indicated that the house was built in 1862.

Ms. Brooks said the house had once belonged to her great-uncle, but nobody has lived in it for at least 25 years.

However, she said, "I believe it could have been reconstructed."