Flames destroy couple's shop again

Second store in decade burns down as tears flow

woman's dog rescued

November 10, 1999|By Kris Antonelli and Tanika White | Kris Antonelli and Tanika White,SUN STAFF

Carole and Bill Sachs stood among the crowd along Main Street in Ellicott City last night and watched their store and years of hard work burn -- for the second time.

"We had no idea what had happened or how big it was," said Bill Sachs after emergency personnel evacuated Spring House Design, which they own. "We watched it go from building to building, and we're watching our store burn down now."

When the fire broke out down the street, they were in their store with two clerks and one customer. Another shop owner alerted Bill Sachs about the fire. A short time later, a police officer came in and told them to leave.

Friends and other shop owners hugged Carole Sachs as she stood alongside her husband trying not to cry last night.

But when her son Eric Sachs, 28, walked up and hugged her, her knees buckled and she clung to him for support.

"It's OK, Mom," her son said. Then Carole Sachs started to cry.

Bill Sachs, who sold his paintings of historic Ellicott City sites and his wife's silk flower creations at the store, seemed in disbelief that this could happen again.

The Sachs' store was in a building across the street when an arsonist struck in 1992. "He hit the Country Store and it spread over and wiped us out," he said. "We were open exactly six days."

The couple has been in business 10 years, four at their current location.

About 7: 30 p.m., firefighters let the couple go down the street to look at the damage to their store. When they walked away from it, Carole Sachs was crying.

Eric Sachs explained that the store was almost completely gone. "It doesn't look good at all. The whole back of the store is gone," he said.

Other business owners, employees and residents of Main Street looked on in horror.

Monique Smoyer found a spot on a side street away from the flashing lights and curious onlookers, hugged her golden retriever Darwin and cried.

Her apartment, above Caplan's Antiques, was burning and being soaked by firefighters' hoses, Smoyer said, but her most precious possession -- her 3-year-old dog -- was alive.

"At least he's safe and everybody's safe," said Smoyer, 24. "And that's what matters."

Smoyer was at work in Beltsville when her boss heard about the fire on the radio.

"I sped down here at 90 miles an hour," she said, all the time thinking of her dog trapped inside the apartment.

When she arrived, officials prevented her from getting to her burning apartment. Smoyer doesn't know who rescued her pet.

"Somebody saved him. I have no idea. Whoever it was, thank you so much," she said.

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