Historic building burns in capital 138-year-old home is damaged by fire in heart of Annapolis

Firefighter treated

March 24, 1998|By Dan Thanh Dang and Dennis O'Brien | Dan Thanh Dang and Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF Sun staff writers Richard Irwin and JoAnna Daemmrich contributed to this article.

A three-alarm fire last night heavily damaged a 138-year-old historic residence that was originally built in the heart of Annapolis to serve as the city's first synagogue.

The fire was discovered shortly before 8: 30 p.m. when a passer-by saw flames coming from the second floor of the three-story stucco building at 183 Duke of Gloucester St. and banged on the door to alert the two tenants. They were in the kitchen and unaware of the blaze.

The tenants, Catherine Lange and Laura Zandenberge, escaped without injuries, but a firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation at Anne Arundel Medical Center, fire officials said.

Fire officials would not release the firefighter's name, but said she is a five-year veteran.

Capt. Leonard Clark, a city Fire Department spokesman, said the fire was reported at 8: 26 p.m., a second alarm was sounded 10 minutes later and a third alarm at 9: 20 p.m. He said the fire was brought under control by about 9: 30 p.m.

The cause of the fire was being investigated.

One of the tenants said she believed the fire might have been started by a candle that was left burning on the second floor of the house.

Lange said that when Michael Dye, 33, told her about the fire, she turned off the appliances, grabbed her cat and ran out the front door.

"As soon as we saw the smoke, we knew we were in big trouble," said Lange, 26.

Carol Mitola, who has owned the Victorian house since 1966, had just eaten dinner at Maria's, a restaurant near the City Dock, and was returning home to watch the Oscars on television when she saw firetrucks on her street, according to a relative.

"She was walking up the street from dinner and saw the firetrucks and started running, saying, 'I think it's my home,' " said Tony Olmert, Mitola's son-in-law.

Fire officials said their efforts were hampered by the neighborhood's narrow streets and overhead power lines.

On Dec. 9, a 98-year-old building on Main Street in the city's historic district was destroyed by an electrical fire.

Anne M. Fligsten, president of the Historic Annapolis Foundation, said fire and city officials are scheduled to hold a seminar in May to look for ways to tighten fire regulations in the historic district.

"I think it's just another terrible blow in the historic district," she said.

Pub Date: 3/24/98

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