Three-alarm blaze in Curtis Bay

The Baltimore Sun

A three-alarm fire raced through a concrete plant in Curtis Bay yesterday morning, causing one building to collapse and severely damaging another building, along with a conveyor and a concrete hopper, fire officials said.

No one was injured in the fire, which caused about $2 million in damage to the plant owned by Universal Engineering and Construction Inc. of Curtis Bay. Machado Construction Co. has run the plant for about a year.

The blaze was reported at 5:45 a.m. in the first block of Stahls Point Road. Firefighters arrived to find two commercial buildings, a 100-foot conveyor and a two-story hopper on fire, said Anne Arundel County Fire Department Battalion Chief Matthew Tobia.

Because the nearest hydrant was 3,000 feet away, additional firefighters were called in to assist. All told, 79 firefighters from Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City and BWI Marshall Airport battled the blaze. Because of the risk of collapse, firefighters used ladder trucks to apply water to the fire, which was brought under control at 7:37 a.m.

Officials from the Maryland Department of the Environment were also on scene to monitor for hazardous runoff. The plant is near Curtis Bay, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. The officials did not detect any runoff, Tobia said.

By midmorning yesterday, a crash truck from the BWI Fire Department had coated the collapsed building with a blanket of foam to prevent reignition of the fire.

The plant has been in operation for 15 to 20 years, said Dana Shakiba, a civil engineer whose father owns Universal Engineering and Construction. Shakiba said his father's company bought the plant in 2000 and operated it until about a year ago, when it was leased to Machado Construction.

Shakiba said the plant employs about 10 people and produces a few hundred yards of concrete per week.

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