The workroom of a logo printing shop was engulfed in flames yesterday causing $100,000 worth of damage during a two-alarm fire in Hampstead.
The State Fire Marshal's office suspects that an electrical
malfunction in one of the pieces of store equipment started the fire.
"The investigation leads us to believe it was accidental," said Faron Taylor, a spokesman for the State Fire Marshal's office. "The damage the building sustained in the fire makes us think neither of these businesses will be able to open up again before Christmas."
Nine fire companies and at least 12 pieces of equipment responded to the 12:30 p.m. blaze which began inside Sportsgrafics, in the 1200 block of North Main St., and spread throughout the building the company shares with Hampstead Gold and Diamond Center and two upstairs apartments.
"Nobody was injured and the damage was confined mainly to the rear of the building," said Hampstead Police Chief Kenneth F. Russell.
Ladder trucks from Hampstead and Owings Mills were used to give firefighters access to the roof. Some of the 70 firefighters on the scene had to break several windows to allow air to get into the area, said Hampstead Fire Chief Herb Raver, the incident commander.
"Positive pressure fans were used to force fire and smoke from the two-story building. It's faster and more efficient," said Chief Raver.
As firefighters worked, Chief Russell watched the jewelry display cases to prevent thefts, he said.
The companies -- also from Manchester, Arcadia, Reisterstown, Boring, Westminster, Lineboro, and Glyndon -- had the blaze under control within an hour, but a portion of North Main Street remained closed for at least an hour after the fire was brought under control.
The front door and broken windows in the building were boarded up, Mr. Russell said.
The fire was discovered by Charles Chinery, 64, whose daughter owns the logo printing store.
"I was working in the next room. I looked back where the dryer [for imprinted shirts] had just been plugged in," said Mr. Chinery. "It started on the clothes dryer."
Roxanna Globus and her son, Robert, 17, were working in the front of the store when the fire started, Robert said.
When Robert heard Mr. Chinery call "fire" and saw him grab a bucket of water, he telephoned 911.
"But by that time it had spread all the way up the wall," Robert said.
Ray and Marie Chesney, owners of Sportsgrafics, who were working at the rear of their store, and the residents of the upstairs apartments, Harry and Mary Arnold and Peggy Rhoten, were unaware of the fire until Mrs. Globus informed them.
No customers were in the stores when fire began, Mr. Chinery said.
Sportsgrafics, which has been in business for about two years, prints logos on sports clothing, according to the owner's son, Brian Chesney, 22.
They imprint roughly $11,000 to $15,000 worth of merchandise each year for mostly fire stations and Maryland State Police organizations.
Mr. Chesney returned from lunch to find fire trucks at the scene.
After surveying the charred rear workroom, Mr. Chesney said he believed the fire began near the press, which "gets up to 280 to 350 degrees."
"It doesn't look like it got past the bathroom," Mr. Chesney said.
Mr. Chinery, who surveyed the jewelry store after the fire, said that showroom damage amounted to smoke and broken glass. Showcases inside the store were covered with tarps.
Harry and Mary Arnold, who kept the jewelry business for 25 years before selling it in 1985 to Mrs. Globus, were calmly waiting to assess the smoke and glass damage to their upstairs apartment as firefighters departed.