6 Mount Airy firefighters injured en route to blaze

January 20, 1999|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Six Mount Airy firefighters were injured Monday night when their fire engine skidded on ice and crashed into an embankment while responding to a three-alarm warehouse blaze in Woodbine.

The fire destroyed the cinder-block offices of A-Aarid Enterprise Corp., a shipping, moving and storage company at 7774 Woodbine Road. State fire marshals estimated $100,000 worth of damage to the structure and $30,000 to the contents.

The cause of the blaze was a malfunction in an electric baseboard heater, said state Fire Marshal Rocco Gabriele.

Nine fire companies from Carroll, Howard and Montgomery counties contained the fire to the offices -- about 2,400 square feet of the 30,000-square-foot building. A loading dock and storage area were damaged by smoke.

The fire was reported at 8: 12 p.m.

No injuries to firefighters at the scene were reported.

The Mount Airy fire engine had just turned onto Flag Marsh Road about 8: 25 p.m. when it hit ice, said Mount Airy Fire Chief Dale Lowman. The engine was traveling at 20 mph to 25 mph, he said.

`An excellent job'

"The driver, Alan Siegrist, did an excellent job of keeping the truck from sliding into the left embankment," Lowman said. "Lt. Brian Hornick, the officer on the engine, took the brunt of it, and he's going to be sore and stiff for a while."

Crew members Robert Christiansen Sr., Robert Christiansen Jr., Craig Avery, Ricky Stull and Siegrist had bumps, bruises and minor cuts, Lowman said.

The injured firefighters were taken to Carroll County General Hospital, treated and released.

The engine's front bumper, tire and undercarriage were damaged.

"We still have one engine, a [rescue] squad [truck] and tanker, and with the mutual aid we have, it doesn't affect us," Lowman said.

The accident is being investigated by the Maryland State Police and the station's Accident Review Board, Lowman said.

Thirty pieces of equipment and 75 firefighters battled the blaze.

Collapsed roof

Flames burned through the roof, which eventually collapsed. Tower 3 from Westminster and Sykesville's ladder truck poured water onto the roof, creating thick white smoke that surrounded the building. Aarid owner Bill Dailey Sr. watched as firefighters put out the fire around 10 p.m. His wife, Betsy, daughter Kara, and son Bill Jr., who manages the Woodbine facility, were at the scene.

ADT Security Services had alerted the family to alarms going off in the building, Betsy Dailey said. Kara Dailey said she left at 6: 30 p.m. and "nothing was wrong."

The elder Dailey said the offices had smoke and heat detectors, which may have helped alert officials early and helped contain the fire, along with the thick cinder-block walls. Two offices containing office equipment were destroyed.

Winfield Fire Chief Ronnie Legore said the biggest problems were establishing a water source and communications.

A Winfield engine pumped 10,000 gallons of water from an underground tank at the Woodbine Shopping Center about a third of a mile away. When that ran out, engines pumped water from the Patapsco River.

Communications problems

Communications between firefighters at the scene and at the shopping center were hampered because the building is in a valley.

A salt truck was brought in to try to keep the wet road from freezing. Woodbine Road, Flag Marsh Road and Morgan Woodbine Road were closed during the fire.

Bill Dailey Jr. said the company lost power and communications. Father and son hope to set up a trailer to work out of while the offices are being repaired.

The elder Dailey said the company may halt receiving until things have been cleaned up. The fire will "not shut us down," he said, "but be more of an inconvenience."

Aarid's main office is in Baltimore. The Woodbine branch does about $3 million a year in business, Dailey Sr. said.

Pub Date: 1/20/99

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