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Never Forgotten
Devastating Commercial Building Fire on South Main Street
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By PIO Doug Alexander
June 23, 2017

On Thursday June 15, 2017 at 1445 hours, Box Alarm 1-15 was sounded for a building fire at 1010 South Main Street. First arriving Engine 12 found fire coming through the roof of a former auto dealership, former kitchen and cabinet shop, now being used as a storage building for a sign company. A second alarm was requested immediately. The fire was through the roof in the rear of the building so an attempt was made to gain access to the rear of the building. However, guard dogs prevented that approach. An attack was then made through the front of the building, but heavy fire, smoke and heat conditions as well as a heavy fire load prevented this attack from continuing. The fire spread rapidly through the roof area of this nearly century old building. Several master streams and 5 ladder pipes were placed in service on the fire building and hand lines were deployed to protect the exposures, which were as close as 25 feet away. Once again, as with other fires along Main Street, the overhead power lines posed an obstacle for firefighting efforts. Heavy black smoke filled the air in the area of the fire building and surrounding neighborhoods. A portion of South Main Street was closed for nearly two days. Units remained on the scene for approximately 28 hours to completely extinguish the fire. The building was a total loss, but no civilian or firefighter injuries were sustained during the incident. Only minor heat damage was done to one home beside the fire building.

This building dated back to somewhere the late 1920's or early 1930's when it housed an automobile dealership. In 1938 a bottling company, bottling Nichol Kola was opened in part of the structure. After a dispute with the Nichol Kola folks, the owner discontinued Nichol and began bottling Chirp. Chirp, was a flavored soda drink that was bottled until the beginning of WWll when sugar was no longer available in sufficient quantities to continue. The Chevrolet dealership operated in the building for many years until approximately 1960. Dennis Kitchens operated there for over 20 years in the 80's, 90's, and early 2000's. The building was sold to the current owners in 2011 and has been used as a storage facility for a sign business since then. The building contained much equipment, materials and other items used in the sign business.

Units from Carroll, Howard, Frederick, and Montgomery counties and Frederick City were needed to quell this blaze, utilizing over 100 firefighters and approximately 34 pieces of fire apparatus. The origin and cause of the fire are under investigation by a joint team of investigators from the Maryland State Fire Marshal's office, the Frederick County Fire Marshal's office, and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Units: E12, TT1, M18, M19, U1, B15, U1-1, Car 1, M1
 
Mutual Aid: HE41, HE44, ME713, FE152, FRS15, FAT23, E142, E141, MPRE709, AT12, FT41, MT734, MAT735, MRS717, HM45, FET254, FET233, MTT717, MTT709, HTT13, HE131, FE331, MRS729, FRS3, FB156,
 
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Mt Airy Volunteer Fire Company
702 N Main Street
Mount Airy, Maryland  21771

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