Fire ravages Arundel boat storage

Transformer explosion might have sparked five-alarm blaze

$500,000 racer destroyed

March 06, 2000|By Kurt Streeter | Kurt Streeter,SUN STAFF

A five-alarm fire destroyed a boat storage and repair shop in Anne Arundel County yesterday.

The fire at Lilly Sport Boats, in the first block of Central Ave. West near Steuart Corner in Edgewater destroyed a boat worth at least a $500,000 and damaged others.

The blaze, which was reported about 2 p.m., might have been caused by a transformer on a nearby telephone poll that exploded and threw a combustible fluid onto the roof of the storage facility.

"I heard a loud popping sound, walked outside and saw that the transformer had blown," said Jimmy Babel, who owns a landscaping business next door. He pointed to a burned telephone pole with a blackened transformer adjacent to the storage facility.

"I saw hot liquid pouring from it," Babel said. "Next thing I know, it [the fluid] touches the roof and the roof is on fire. The fire started in just seconds."

Boosted by oil and propane tanks inside, the fire quickly engulfed the one-story cinder block building and ignited a 6- to 8-foot high mound of tires standing a few feet from the building, said Capt. Frank Stamm, spokesman for Anne Arundel County EMS/Fire/Rescue.

"There were a pair of race boats inside," Art Lilly, owner of the business, said as he surveyed the damage. "We'd just finished working on one of them. It was worth at least a half-million dollars. This is just terrible."

At least eight other boats were stored near the building and many of them were badly damaged by the fire, their 40-foot fiberglass hulls partially blackened and melted.

No one was inside the building when the fire started. A Farmers Bank of Maryland branch in front of the storage facility was not damaged.

"When our first firefighters got here, it was a mess," Stamm said. "There were flames all over the place, and there were reports of explosions from inside."

Firefighters battled the blaze for about 50 minutes before getting it under control. Using extension ladders, they poured water on the building and foam on the burning tires.

Anne Arundel County firefighters were aided by fire crews from Annapolis, the Naval Academy and Queen Anne's County, Stamm said.

Firefighters did not give a damage estimate yesterday and said the blaze was being investigated.

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