Electrical fire damages sawmill in Calvert Co. Shortage of water hampers firefighters

June 28, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

DUNKIRK -- A four-alarm fire that destroyed several buildings and caused a half-million dollars in damage to a Calvert County sawmill Saturday was blamed yesterday on an electrical malfunction.

More than 100 firefighters from 19 fire companies in Calvert, Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties struggled with high temperatures and a severe shortage of water that officials said hampered their efforts to save the buildings.

"If they had water, the firefighters would have had a much better chance of extinguishing the fire quickly," said Bob Thomas, a spokesman for the state fire marshal's office.

Fire trucks had to shuttle water more than 10 miles, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Coffey Lumber Co.,on a dirt path off McKendree Road near the Anne Arundel County line.

Mr. Thomas said the fire was reported about 5 p.m. by Laura Cunningham, 68, who lives in a trailer on the property. She heard a loud popping noise and saw a white flash in front of the electrical service building.

The fire spread quickly throughout a 150-by-40-foot wooden building, which contained an 8-foot circular saw, and then to several outbuildings and sheds and into a three-quarter acre wood-chip mulch pile.

Firefighters brought the blaze under control within 90 minutes, but it smoldered well into the night, Mr. Thomas said.

One firefighter suffered minor injuries.

He and several others who suffered from heat exhaustion were treated at the scene, he said.

Mr. Thomas said the sawmill employed 20 people, who now are at least temporarily out of work.

The owner of the business would not comment.

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