(6/5) The video is grainy, but it shows
how prevention today can save a lot of heartache tomorrow. The video shows the
kitchen of The Carriage House Inn early Sunday morning May 25. A fire appears
and then the room fills with smoke. The fire creeps up the wall of the kitchen
to the ceiling and then the sprinkler head pops. Suddenly the fire becomes
nothing more than a few embers, if that. A short time later, firefighters from
Vigilant Hose Company enter the kitchen to make sure the fire is out and to get
the smoke out of the room.
“Videos like that are certainly hard to
come by,” said Jason Powell with Vigilant Hose Company.
The reason why is understandable when it
will cost the Hance Family around $30,000 to repair the damage to The Carriage
“It’s more than what we first anticipated,
but it seems as we looked closer, there was more to be fixed,” said Bob Hance,
owner of The Carriage House Inn.
But it could have been worse. Without the
functioning sprinkler system Hance installed in the restaurant when the second
floor was renovated in 1998, the entire building could have burned.
“We were very lucky to have a sprinkler
system or we would have had zero building left,” Hance said. “It went off and
basically extinguished the fire.”
A National Fire Academy student was
walking back to his dormitory early Sunday morning when he heard a bell
“He walked around the building trying to
look in where he could,” said Jason Powell with Vigilant Hose Company. “When he
saw the smoke inside the building, he called it in.”
Besides Vigilant, fire companies from
Thurmont, Taneytown, Rocky Ridge, Harney and Greenmount, Pa. were alerted.
The fire started in a bin of clean rags,
but there is some discussion over how it started in an empty building. The
investigation is still ongoing. One possibility is that a tea light fell into
Hance thinks this is unlikely since he
believes that the tea light would have had to be lit for three hours or so
without anyone noticing it.
“I firmly believe the stack of rags
self-combusted,” Hance said.
He said that when the rags are taken from
the dryer, they are very hot and although they are clean, they still might have
some grease in them. Hance believes these hot rags created enough heat to
ignite the grease.
Hance also praised the efforts of local
firefighters who not only cleaned up after themselves but also stopped back
Sunday afternoon to check on how the Hances were doing.
“It’s a great feeling knowing these
volunteers have that kind of care for their community,” Hance said.
Hance said he has received requests from
both National Fire Academy and Vigilant Hose Company for copies of the fire
video. The agencies believe the video can be used as a teaching tool to show
other businesses the benefits of installing a sprinkler system.
The Carriage House Inn re-opened for
business on June 2.
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