Smoke forces governor and lawmakers from bar

April 10, 2010|By Julie Bykowicz and Annie Linskey

A celebration for freshmen members of the Maryland state legislature ended abruptly when smoke entered the Annapolis barroom in which it was held.

Gov. Martin O'Malley and House Speaker Michael E. Busch were among at least 50 lawmakers who left the smoky building about 11:15 p.m. Thursday, just before Annapolis fire units arrived.

Lt. John J. Bowes of the Annapolis Fire Marshal's Office said Friday that there was "no fire" at the bar, but said smoke and debris came out of vents when the heating system - which had been off for some time - was inadvertently turned on.

The smoky conditions occurred toward the end of a celebration for lawmakers finishing their first terms in office. It included a comedic roast of the new members by Busch followed by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and then brief remarks by the governor.

The bar, O'Brien's, is a few blocks from the governor's mansion and is a popular watering hole for legislators, Naval Academy midshipmen and locals.

O'Malley said he noticed the smell on the second floor. He said he stopped briefly on the first floor to listen to a band, then departed with his security detail. As the governor left, the fire alarm was sounding, and dozens of lawmakers and lobbyists followed suit, as well as Baltimore Sun reporters.

Four units arrived, and firefighters were hooking up hoses and entering the three-story building as the bar emptied.

Firefighters using thermal imaging found nothing smoldering in the walls, Bowes said, and turned off the heat.

Baltimore Sun reporter Andrea Siegel contributed to this article

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