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High winds encourage barn fire

(12/6) When Gary Cox of Emmitsburg woke up on Dec. 4, he thought it was daylight outside until he realized his barn was on fire.

The barns at 11237 Simmons Road came up very close to the back of the 1873 farmhouse and threatened to catch it on fire around 3:06 a.m. on Dec. 4. About 60 firefighters from Frederick, Carroll and Adams counties responded to the blaze.

“Our biggest challenge was the wind,” said Wayne Powell with Vigilant Hose Company. “It really gave us a fit and it only got worse when we got there.”

When Vigilant Hose arrived on the scene, the first hose crew moved to protect the rear of the house from igniting. The second hose crew went to protect two fuel tanks from exploding.

“The tanks were steaming when we got there, so we were lucky,” Powell said.
Gary and Sally Cox, their six children and Sally’s mother were taken to a neighbors home while the fire crews set up a tanker task force. This was a group of five tanker engines that began shuttling water from a nearby pond to the fire scene to put out the fire.

The fire was brought under control in about 20 minutes, though firefighters remained on the scene for hours going through the debris to make sure nothing was smoldering that could re-ignite. The family suffered no injuries; however, three goats, two dogs and as many as 15 cats were lost in the fire.

“If the wind had been blowing in the opposite direction, the outcome could have been a lot worse,” Powell said.

The damage is estimated at $100,000.

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