Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ross Morgan said crews had trouble entering the structure in their first attempts. Morgan attributed the difficulty to the ferocity of the fire, as well as the amount of contents within the home. No one was believed to be in the residence at the time of the fire.
"The guys tried to go in the front door and the rear," Morgan said. "They could only get in maybe 10 feet."
The roof of a W. German Street residence becomes engulfed Saturday afternoon as firefighters work to extinguish a structure fire in Shepherdstown. The structure burned for several hours as fire companies from the Eastern Panhandle, Maryland and Virginia worked to put it out.
Several Shepherdstown residents speculated the home owner was eccentric and a kind of hoarder.
"I would imagine that almost every inch of that house has got stuff in it," one resident said.
Power to the downtown area of Shepherdstown was shut off due to the fire. Morgan said crews needed to have safe access to the structure's roof for its ladders. A First Energy representative confirmed the power outage, and estimated residents and businesses would be without power for three hours.
The fire, called in around 2:30 p.m., happened to be spotted by a member of the SVFD, according to Morgan. Crews were on the scene in relatively short order to find the structure fully involved.
While rumors spread that the historic Thomas Shepherd Inn was affected, Morgan said the building was in immediate danger when crews arrived, but secured soon after they began work.
Shepherdstown is undergoing an upgrade of its water system, Morgan said. Because of this, a tanker task force was called to the town. The task force pumped water from the Potomac River, upon which Shepherdstown sits, into fire engines and brought it to the scene.
"We're trying to keep that water storage in town for the town," Morgan said.
The fire burned for several hours despite crews' best efforts to quell its flames. Crews were still on the scene at 6 p.m., according to Jefferson County Communications.
Morgan said no cause could be determined at press time and that the incident is still under investigation.