At 1752 hrs. on December 31, 2012, the Carroll County Emergency Operations Center received a 911 'cellphone' call for smoke coming from a building across from the Citco Gas Station at the intersection of Route 194 (FSK Hwy) and Middleburg Rd., in Keymar. Box Alarm 8-6 was struck seconds later.
Chief 8 responded and was advised of multiple calls with a probable working fire. At 1802 hrs, Chief 8 (C. Green) arrived to find a 50' x 150' commercial structure with heavy smoke coming from the rear (Side 'C') portion of the building, both roof and overhead doors. The building at 1060 Francis Scott Key Highway, has two businesses, one a trucking company (JP Donmoyer) and the other, a tire business (Keymar Tire). As fire broke through the roof in a truck/trailer repair area on Sides B/C/D, Chief 8 established "Middleburg Command" and at 1804 hrs, requested a RID (Rapid Intervention Dispatch) and the "2nd Alarm".
Engine 81 arrived for the initial attack on Side 'B' and stretched 'Attack Lines' to an area on Side 'B' where the seat of the fire appeared to be located. A 2" Heavy Attack Line was placed in-service as well. Rescue Squad 8 arrived and began forcible entry tactics to gain access for the crew of Engine 81. Then, Frederick Engine/Tanker 94 and Frederick Tanker 9 arrived to provide the initial water supply to Engine 81.
Engine/Tanker 82 arrived and took position on Side 'A/D' and stretched a 2 1/2" Blitz Line down Side 'D' to make an attempt to stop the fires progression as well. Ladder 5 ('Chief 5' C. Austin) arrived and took position on Side 'A', while Engine/Tanker 54 arrived to supply Engine/Tanker 82 with water. Additional 1 3/4" Attack Lines were pulled from Engine/Tanker 82 and crews from Company 8 and 5 made entry into the Side 'A' entrance. Crews advanced, holding the fire for about 15 minutes until all units began to run out of water.
Units from Frederick County 11 ('Chief 11-2' M. Kriemer) and Brush 105 were assigned to Side 'C' and were able to use an underground cistern in the parking lot, to supply hose lines for protection of large fuel and waste oil tanks located against the building on Side 'C'.
At 1815 hrs, command requested a "Tanker Task Force" for water supply. Units tried to draft water from a dry hydrant at Rt. 194 and the county line, but were unsuccessful due to an issue with the dry hydrant. Several other water sources in the area were also tried before Tankers were sent back to Union Bridge for water from a hydrant in front of the station and another supply was established in Detour by Frederick Engine 132 at another dry hydrant. Portable tanks were set-up next to the scene, awaiting Tankers to deliver water to the fire ground. Engine 101 supplied Ladder 5 through Frederick Engine/Tanker 94 and Frederick Engine 183 supplied Engine 81 and Frederick Tower 6.
Engine/Tanker 82 advised they were out of water and that Side 'A' crews needed to evacuate. Engine 81 also ran out of water at nearly the same time. At this point, the "evacuation tones" were sounded as well as air horns blasted, to insure that all interior fire crews left the building. A "PAR" (Personnel Accountability Report) was conducted to insure all fire ground personnel were accounted for; and that all crews had evacuated the building. Within 10 minutes, the fire moved quickly through-out the building and multiple roof collapses occurred.
With the fire quickly growing, the residence located on Side 'D' of the fire building was evacuated due to a large amount of embers coming from the fire, covering the roof. An 1 3/4" handline was pulled from Engine/Tanker 82 to provide exposure protection for the residence. As water supply was established, the threat to exposures was eliminated.
"Command" also request 4 additional 'High Capacity Tankers' (3,000 Gallons +) due to the distance of the water source and for the large fire flow requirements. A total of 14 Tankers (1500 to 3000 gallon) were used to move water to the scene. It is estimated that nearly 80,000 gallons of water was used during the incident.
As a constant water supply was established at around 1900 hrs, Ladder 5 and Frederick County Tower 6 placed elevated master streams in-service. With the bulk of the fire 'knocked-down', crews with 1 3/4" Attack Lines re-entered the building and the fire was under control with crews mopping up by 1945 hrs. "Command" began placing units in-service at 2045 hrs and the last unit left the scene at 2230 hrs.
Station 8 units returned two other times through the night, to extinguish flare-ups of fire; once at 0027 hrs (1/1/13) with Brush 85 and the second time at 0459 hrs (1/1/13) with Engine/Tanker 82.
Though the incident was plagued by water supply issues initially, all units and crews that responded did a great job of team work and the fire was contained to the original fire building. Support units from Frederick County Station 4 (Air Unit 4) and Station 1 (Canteen 1) were greatly appreciated. Frederick Medic 30 provided EMS/Rehab resources.
A special thanks to 'Command Support 10' (Chief 10, Tom Coe) for his assistance to "Middleburg Command". His help with communications, coordination of fire ground and water supply operations and the tracking of units and crews on the scene, were invaluable to the "Incident Commander".
Thanks to the crews from the MD State Highway Administration and from Carroll County Roads Dept. crews as well, for assistance with closing roads and salting roads/streets where ice became a hazard. MSP and Carroll County Sheriffs Office were also on scene to provide crowd control and road closing. Also, thanks to all transfer units covering the stations emptied during the incident.
According to the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office, the loss of contents and building are currently estimated to be in excess of $500,000. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined, but is being investigated by the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office.