Investigators have abandonned the idea of creating a computerized model of the New Year's Eve fire that destroyed the old Gill Gymnasium at Western Maryland College.
Although the model would help them study how the five-alarm fire progressed through the two-story brick building, which was insured for $2 million, not enough evidence exists to reconstruct it in a computer with accuracy.
After sifting through ashes for several days, investigators pinpointed the northeast corner of the basement as the source of the blaze. But the tremendous amount of destruction at the origin left searchers little evidence with which to reconstruct the fire.
The college had stored much wooden furniture in the basement, but none of it remained for inspectors to study as evidence.
"We have information on what was there but not enough on the amount or how it was arranged," said W. Faron Taylor, deputy fire marshal.
"It is not enough to complete the equation for a model."
At best, the model would be based on estimates and guesswork.
"Estimates might satisfy curiosity, but they have no investigative value," Taylor said.
Investigators continue to review eyewitness accounts and evidence gathered at the scene. The state fire marshal's office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are working together on the investigation.
Taylor said he was confident that they would discover the cause of the fire.
Pub Date: 1/12/97