Investigators seek cause of Taneytown weekend fire 23 are left homeless

six apartments burned

August 04, 1998|By John Murphy | John Murphy,SUN STAFF

Investigators will continue searching today for the cause of a fire that nearly destroyed an apartment building in downtown Taneytown early Saturday and left 23 people homeless, authorities said.

Yesterday, the state fire marshal's office interviewed the 15 residents who were in the three-story frame building at 40 E. Baltimore St. when the fire began, said W. Faron Taylor, deputy state fire marshal.

Police dog units were taken to the scene to search for accelerants -- such as gasoline -- that might have started the fire, he said.

Investigators have determined that the fire originated in Apartment 7, but the cause is unknown, Taylor said.

Oliver Glass, who has owned the building since 1986, said a private fire investigator also is expected to inspect the damage.

The building, which contained eight apartments and two businesses, suffered extensive fire, heat, smoke and water damage. Six apartment units were destroyed. Damage to the building and contents was estimated at more than $100,000. The fire was reported at 5: 14 a.m. Saturday.

On Sunday, neighbors cleaned up sections of the roof, window screens and other debris, with the smell of charred wood and burned rubber still strong. A pile of furniture, clothing and blackened magazines spilled from the midsection of the building.

The two businesses that occupy the front section of the building -- Tina's Barber Shop and Kim's Massage Therapy -- were not heavily damaged. Glass said they were open for business Saturday.

About 60 firefighters from Taneytown, Harney, Union Bridge, Emmitsburg and Adams County, Pa., battled the blaze for more than an hour.

No injuries were reported.

"At that hour of the morning you expect the worse," said Brett E. Six, chief of Taneytown Volunteer Fire Department.

All 23 victims have found temporary housing with family and friends, said Payton Goldman, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross.

Pub Date: 8/04/98

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