Two families were left homeless and two businesses destroyed in a fire last night in Lonaconing directly across the street from the site of a blaze two years ago that left historic buildings in the Allegany County town in ruins.
State fire officials said the blaze began in the attic of a two-story wooden duplex about 6 p.m. and was brought under control in about four hours by firefighters from three counties and neighboring West Virginia.
An electrical blackout caused by the fire about 9:30 p.m. left about 80 percent of the town without power, officials said.
Two people were injured, but officials could not provide any details. Occupants of the two apartments were not home at the time of the blaze, and Mayor Joseph E. Krumpach said one of the families was vacationing in Ocean City.
The two businesses destroyed in the fire were Bouquet Boutique and Valley Hairways. The cause was still under investigation last night.
Across the street, workers have been putting the finishing touches on a housing complex for the elderly, the replacement for buildings destroyed in May 1990 when six businesses and several apartments burned.
The $1.6 million renovation project -- coming from private, state and federal funds -- gave a lift to residents, who had spent months staring at a vacant lot that covered an entire city block.
"We will have to take it in the same stride as the last fire," the 70-year-old mayor said. "The people here are sturdy people. They live and bend with this type of disaster. They will bounce back."