1984 fire steals Christmas

Howard History

November 18, 2007

As reported Nov. 21, 1984, in The Howard Sun:

A fire-bearing grinch leaped out of a bakery air-conditioner and stole Christmas - and perhaps the heart to continue - from Ellicott City's Main street business district last week.

The inferno, called by county fire officials one of the worst fires in the 210-year-old town's history, destroyed six buildings that housed seven businesses, including such tourist magnets as Baking by Leidig and Chez Fernand, a French restaurant.

"The town as a whole is going to be drastically affected. There's going to be a big decline in business because Fernand's and the Leidig's are the two most prominent draws and the biggest employers in town," said Larry M. Bolet, owner of L'Atelier Imports, a large retail brass and furniture business.

The cause of the fire, said state fire investigators, was an air-conditioning heat pump that should have turned off automatically, but malfunctioned, overheated and eventually ignited the ceiling of Baking by Leidig at 8149 Main St.

The six-alarm blaze displaced 10 persons who were living in seven apartments above the shops, injured no one, but caused an estimated $1.3 million in damage.

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