Watson's warehouse destroyed by fire BALTIMORE COUNTY

March 23, 1993|By Frank D. Roylance | Frank D. Roylance,Staff Writer

A smoky morning fire at Watson's Fireplace and Patio store in Lutherville destroyed a warehouse crammed with boxed patio furniture and fireplace accessories yester- day.

The two-alarm blaze also tangled morning traffic on York Road, which was closed from Seminary Avenue to Ridgely Avenue until just before 11 a.m.

Fire officials said one volunteer firefighter was taken to the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore for treatment of minor smoke inhalation. Two other firefighters were treated at the scene for burns, and a fourth suffered a back injury.

The fire's cause was not immediately determined. Joe Watson, hTC 62, owner of the store in the 1600 block of York Road, said a forklift repairman reported seeing sparks falling from an electrical fixture onto cardboard boxes just before the fire erupted.

Fire investigator Roland Bosley later removed a piece of electrical cable from the building for testing. In the meantime, he said, "the fire is still under investigation."

The adjoining retail portion of the store at 1616 York Road was not damaged and remained open. The Watson's Garden Center store next door also was unaffected.

Battalion Chief Mike Whittaker, county Fire Department spokesman, said the fire was reported at 7:39 a.m. and declared under control at 9:51 a.m. "It was a difficult fire to fight because the warehouse has storage from floor to ceiling. It's jam-packed, and firefighters had difficulty gaining access to the interiors," he said.

More than 80 fire personnel answered the alarm, including volunteers from Lutherville, Providence and Cockeysville and county units from the Towson, Texas, Hillendale, Parkville and Fullerton stations.

No official damage estimate was available. Mr. Watson put the value of merchandise in the 60-by-80-foot warehouse at more than $400,000. The losses were insured.

This was the second time the steel and concrete block warehouse had burned. An arson damaged the warehouse on Feb. 14, 1981. No one was ever charged in that fire.

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