Blaze Destroys 2 Homes Along Chesapeake

Flames melt siding off houses across street

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Firefighters contained a five-alarm fire along the Chesapeake Bay early Monday morning that destroyed two homes and damaged another to the point it's unlivable.

The three shoreline community houses on Shore Drive in Oyster Harbor were next to one another. Matthew Tobia, the battalion chief for Anne Arundel County Fire Department, said 100 firefighters were at the scene.

A woman and two children inside the home where the fire started escaped unharmed, but their family dog, Yogi, did not.

Tobia said the flames melted the siding off three houses across the street, but firefighters were able to save those homes. Several hoses also burned. Fire crews were still dousing hot spots as of 2:30 a.m., dealing with icy streets and strong winds.

Neighbors criticized the way firefighters battled the blaze. It took too long for them to arrive, there wasn't enough water, and instead of fighting the blaze immediately, they focused on preventing the fire from spreading to the houses that were across the street, the neighbors said.
There were no hydrants in the neighborhood, firefighters said, so they had to get water from a nearby channel and pump it from the bay. The houses that were destroyed could not be saved, firefighters said.

Two firefighters were treated for minor injuries from the blaze, which started around 10:30 p.m. No one else was hurt.

A family of four has been displaced, and a man living in the second destroyed home is also displaced.  No one was present in the third home.

Officials don't yet know how the fire started and don't plan to begin investigating until daylight.

They estimate about $2 million in damage.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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