Fire destroys century-old Warfieldsburg house


A bedridden 82-year-old woman and her 48-year-old daughter escaped a three-alarm fire that destroyed their century-old home in Warfieldsburg yesterday.

The fire in the 1700 block of Stone Chapel Road was discovered about 7:30 a.m. by Leona Shockey, who lived with her mother, Esther Shockey, in the 2 1/2 -story wooden house, part of which was a log structure covered with wood siding.

The fire destroyed the older log section and burned through the second floor and roof.

Deputy State Fire Marshal Frank Rauschenberg, who investigated, said he believed the fire began around the clothes dryer but a cause had not been determined. He estimated damage at more than $70,000.

A pet cat died in the fire, but neither woman was injured. Esther Shockey had lived at the house 45 years.

Leona Shockey, who works in the Western Maryland College library, said she was getting dressed when she smelled smoke, ran to the kitchen and saw the fire on the rear porch, where she had just put clothes in a dryer.

"I immediately went to the first-floor front room, where my mother was in bed, got her up and into her wheelchair," she said.

Unable to escape by a ramp at the rear, she pushed her mother in the wheelchair onto the front porch, then went back inside to call 911.

Several neighbors ran to the burning house and lifted Esther Shockey and the wheelchair to the ground.

The Shockeys were taken to the home of a neighbor.

Neighbors said the building once was a home for teachers at a brick school across the road, and had been a post office and general store.

A two-story addition was built onto the log house around the turn of the century.

The exterior of the newer section remained standing yesterday, but the interior and contents of the home were destroyed.

Westminster Assistant Chief Jeff Alexander said he called for the second alarm when he arrived on the scene 10 minutes after the first alarm because the rear of the house was in flames.

The third alarm was sounded at 8:18 a.m.

Stone Chapel Road was blocked by fire equipment, and school buses that usually pick up children who live along the road were stopped at Route 27, about half a mile away.

Traffic was detoured around the site. More than 100 firefighters and 21 pieces of emergency equipment responded. The last firefighters left the site almost five hours after the first alarm.

Later yesterday, Mrs. Shockey and her daughter were staying with another daughter, Jacqueline Merriew, in Jefferson, Frederick County.

Ms. Merriew said in a telephone interview that her mother had not seen the destroyed dwelling, which had been her home since 1950, and the family didn't want her to see it.

"It would be too much for her," Ms. Merriew said.

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