Yet another fire destroyed a Shepherdstown home on Friday evening. That makes three structures damaged or destroyed in as many months.
The latest, at 199 Berridge Drive, was the two-story home of John and Vicki Lowery. The home, according to Lt. Zac Morgan of the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department, had fire on the second floor. While the fire was on that floor, Morgan indicated the home was possibly a total loss.
"The fire was only on the second floor. They [the homeowners] were able to salvage a lot of belongings on the first floor," Morgan said.
The call for the fire sounded at approximately 6:45 p.m. Friday evening with companies responding from Jefferson and Berkeley counties as well as from Sharpsburg, Md. Morgan said that the fire was an intense one and was through the roof when firefighters arrived.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
In addition to Friday's fire, there are two additional cases that are still under investigation. The first is the fire on Princess Street that destroyed the Willow Forge Blacksmith shop in early December. The fire, according to eyewitnesses on the scene, was fully involved before firefighters could respond.
Although firefighters were able to get the fire under control is a matter of minutes, the damage was done and the shop completely destroyed.
Following that instance, another house fire occurred at 302 W. German Street when a home was engulfed in flames Dec. 23. The intense fire at that location occurred while Mother Nature inundated the area with heavy winds. Thanks to quick efforts and response by local firefighters, the fire did not spread to adjoining buildings, including the Thomas Shepherd Inn.
Fire Chief Ross Morgan shared at the time of the Dec. 23 fire that the town is currently undergoing an upgrade to its water system. A tanker task force was called to the town to help distinguish the fire.
Each of the fires remain under investigation by the State Fire Marshal's office.
Fire safety plans from SafetyBLR.com include the following:
Protect Your Belongings: Except when you actually need them elsewhere, keep your most important papers and possessions in a Fire proof safe. Make an inventory of your valuables, and store that list, along with photos of the items, in the safe itself.|
Inspect Your Home for Fire Hazards: Check with your local fire department's fire prevention unit to see if they conduct home inspections. If you do it yourself, look for hazards around the kitchen, the fireplace, the furnace, electrical wiring, switches and outlets. Place all combustible items at least three (3) feet from any heat source.
Unattended cooking is the #1 cause of fire. Watch what you heat, wear short or tight fitting sleeves when cooking and keep pot handles turned in toward the stove. If food catches fire, extinguish flames by sliding a lid over the fire, and turning off the burner.
Plan and Practice a Fire Escape Plan: Draw a diagram of your home and plan two (2) escape routes from every room. Pick a place to meet after you escape. A good meeting place is a tree or telephone pole in front of your home. Make sure you can easily open all windows and exit doors. Practice your plan every six months.
Install Smoke Detectors and Make Sure They Work: Install a detector near each sleeping area, either on the ceiling or high on a wall. Test each unit by following the manufacturer's suggestions. Check batteries once a month by pushing the unit's test button. Change batteries at least once a year. Many people change their batteries when they change their clock settings in the Spring and Fall.
Use Common Sense if You Smoke: Smoking is by far the leading cause of fatal home fires. Never smoke in bed, or while drowsy. Make sure all smoking materials are extinguished before you put them in the trash. Use large deep ashtrays and make sure ashes and smoking materials are completely cooled before discarding. Check in and around furniture cushions for stray smoking materials before going to bed or leaving home. Keep matches and lighters out of sight and reach of children.
Sleep With the Bedroom Doors Closed: The majority of fatal fires happen between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Closed bedroom doors can deter smoke from spreading, and give you more time to escape. Make sure everyone in the house can hear the smoke alarm from inside the closed bedroom, or consider installing an alarm inside the bedroom as well.
Get Out Fast, and Stay Out!: If fire breaks out, you'll have only minutes to escape with your life. Focus all your attention on getting out and don't try to save possessions. Never go back into a burning building. It's often a fatal mistake.
Feel Doors Before Opening Them: Be sure to touch the door, the door knob, and crack next to the door with the back of your hand. If you feel heat, don't open the door. Use your second way out. Even if the door is cool, brace your shoulder against the door and open it carefully.
Crawl Low Under Smoke: Smoke actually kills more people than fire does. If you see smoke, use your second way out. If you must go through a smoke-filled area to get out, get down on your hands and knees, and crawl quickly under the smoke to the exit.
Stop, Drop and Roll, if Your Clothes Catch Fire: Don't run. Stop, drop to the floor and cover your face with your hands. Roll over and over until the fire goes out, or if physically unable to stop, drop and roll, smother flames with