With the smell of burned wood still lingering, Elkton barber Ralph Wiles looked yesterday at all that was left of his shop: a blackened carpet, broken glass and holes in walls that had separated his business from its neighbor.
"My heart's broken," said Wiles, who has owned the Elkton Barber Shop for 30 years. "I don't know how they're ever going to fix it."
Wiles had been in church Sunday when he learned his shop and two other Main Street buildings had been damaged in a three-alarm blaze.
Cecil County authorities believe Sunday afternoons fire on the town's Main Street began in a bedroom in an apartment at 144 W. Main St., before spreading to homes at 146 and 148 W. Main St., where Wiles owned a building housing the shop and three apartments.
The owners of the other two buildings, each containing three apartments, could not be reached for comment.
No cause has been determined, said W. Faron Taylor, spokesman for the Maryland fire marshal's office.
The blaze left 12 residents homeless, said Patti Smythe, Red Cross disaster captain for Cecil. Taylor estimated about $1 million in damage.
The Red Cross has been providing vouchers for lodging, food and clothing for the families displaced by the fire.
"Everybody lost everything," Smythe said.
"Certainly it was a major fire," said Taylor. "But whether the buildings will be repairable will be determined by the level of insurance."
Wiles expects the worst. "I think its a total loss," he said.
Smythe, who has seen the aftermath of many fires, echoed Wiles.
"There's a condemned sign on that door," she said. "From what I've seen in the past, that means it will be torn down."