The state fire marshal's office is urging residents in central Carroll County to secure their barns and outbuildings, after determining a fire that heavily damaged a metal barn in Gamber was intentionally set Friday night.
The blaze caused about $20,000 damage to a 90-foot-by-60-foot hay barn owned by John Nickoles in the 3700 block of Nicholson Road.
A motorist saw smoke from the open metal barn about 11:20 p.m. and called 911, authorities said. Firefighters from Gamber, Reese, Westminster and Winfield arrived a few minutes later and brought the blaze under control within 40 minutes.
Fire Marshal Larry Fletcher from the Westminster office said the preliminary determination is that the fire was caused by arson. Investigators are awaiting results of laboratory tests on samples from the fire, he said yesterday.
Anyone with information should call the fire marshal's office at 410-875-5450. Those convicted of setting the fire could be sentenced to 20 years in prison, authorities said.
Authorities said a barn fire during the weekend on Dundee Drive in Gamber was not arson.
The 30-foot-by-60-foot frame barn was destroyed, with the loss estimated at $60,000, authorities said.
Owner Brian Tissue saw smoke from the barn about 7:30 a.m. Saturday and called 911. State fire marshals said the fire started in the attic after an electrical malfunction ignited ceiling and roof materials.
Also during the weekend, firefighters responded to a fire about 4 a.m. Saturday at a dormitory at Western Maryland College in Westminster.
The fire, on the third floor of McDaniel Hall, caused $20,000 in damage and displaced two students, said Don Schumaker, a college spokesman.
The building, which houses 140 students, was evacuated for about an hour while firefighters extinguished the fire, Schumaker said. The two displaced students will be housed elsewhere on campus until early next month when the dorm room is expected to be renovated.
Fire marshals said the fire started when a lamp was accidentally knocked over and the light bulb touched combustible materials.