At 11:56 pm on Friday, September 1, 2017, the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company, along with mutual aid companies, was dispatched for a Garage Fire reported near the intersection of Buck Neck Road and Fish Hatchery Road. This is located in Chesapeake Landing, a community in the western part of our primary response area, near Melitota. This is the same neighborhood where a serious house fire occurred two weeks ago on Saturday, August 19, 2017. The distance to this area is one of our more distant runs, so the response time is necessarily longer.
The fire was discovered by a passer-by, who sounded the alarm. They stopped and pounded on the door of the home, alerting the residents of the dwelling to the fire, who were as yet unaware of it. Because the fire had not yet spread to the house, there was no smoke in the dwelling and the smoke alarms had not an opportunity to activate. The dwelling occupants, thus having sufficient warning, were able to safely evacuate.
The information provided upon dispatch was for a detached garage on fire with significant exposure to the house. Exposure is the term we use in the fire service to characterize a nearby structure or uninvolved item / entity that is threatened by either actual fire impingement or radiant heat. First arriving units discovered a one (1) story, two (2) car garage 100% involved with fire. The fire was so far advanced, the garage roof had already collapsed. However? Because of the severe exposure hazard, the fire had extended to the dwelling, a one (1) story Rancher type home. This structure was approximately 50% involved, with most of the fire inside the living space and “walking” the attic space. “Walking” is fire service nomenclature indicating fire has taken possession of a certain area and is spreading unchecked.
To have any chance of saving a threatened home like this, it is imperative that fire crews enter the dwelling and make an aggressive interior attack, taking control of fire that has possession of the home. It is especially important that fire potentially affecting roof integrity be addressed. With recognition the garage was already a total loss, our first crew entered the home and advanced an 1-3/4″ hose line with a two-fold purpose. Stop the fire that has possession of those areas nearest the garage and, more importantly, address the fire in the attic space. That is precisely what they did. First, they were able to cut-off the fire then taking possession of that area of the house closest to the garage. Their attention quickly turned to the attic. With the assistance of incoming mutual aid companies, ceilings were pulled and fire streams directed into the attic area, quenching the fire there. The fire was declared “Under Control” at 12:27 am.
Delmarva Power was summoned to disconnect electric service to the home. The fire marshal was requested. A representative of the Maryland State Fire Marshals Office responded and is currently conducting an Origin & Cause Investigation. Although displaced by the fire, the family was not in need of assistance as this home was a vacation dwelling.
There were no injuries to civilians or emergency personnel. Crews operated at this incident for three (3) hours forty-four (44) minutes.
All photographs by members of the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company
Fire Emergency Services organizations represented:
Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company
Rock Hall Volunteer Fire Company
Kennedyville Volunteer Fire Company
Betterton Volunteer Fire Company
Church Hill Volunteer Fire Company
Crumpton Volunteer Fire Company
Galena Volunteer Fire Company
Kent & Queen Annes Rescue Squad
Kent County EMS
In the event of another fire or incident in our district, equipment and personnel from the Community Fire Company of Millington and the Sudlersville Volunteer Fire Company stood by at our fire station. We thank these organizations for their service.