Fire Displaces 12 on Md.'s Upper Shore - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Fire Displaces 12 on Md.'s Upper Shore

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It took 45 firefighters approximately four hours to get Thursday's blaze under control. (Photo: Nevin Steffy) It took 45 firefighters approximately four hours to get Thursday's blaze under control. (Photo: Nevin Steffy)

BETTERTON, Md.- Authorities are investigating the cause of a three-story multi-family housing complex that displaced 12 people in Kent County, Md.

The Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office said the two-alarm blaze occurred shortly before 1 a.m. Thursday at 207 Main St. in Betterton.

Forty-five firefighters from the Betterton, Rock Hall, Chestertown, Kennedyville, Galena,
Millington as well as surrounding companies from Cecil, Queen Anne's, Caroline counties and
Delaware, responded to the scene.

One tenant was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore for treatment of a broken leg. There were no other reported injuries.

Firefighters said they faced unique challenges when battling the fire. When they arrived on the scene, the fire hydrants were so cold that the water pressure was minimal.

"The hydrant system, it just couldn't support it. We didn't have but 20 pounds of hydrant pressure." said Betterton Fire Chief Jimmy Price.

Price said that normally the hydrants have 50-60 pounds of pressure. Firefighters then turned to another water source: the Chesapeake Bay. Crews ran lines half a mile down the hill to the frozen-over bay, and were able to start pulling water from there to put out the inferno. But even that presented its challenges.

"The tide went out. But luckily we were able to get a pretty good knock on it, and it gave me time to get the tankers in," Price said.

The tankers were able to extinguish the rest of the fire, but by that time the building was a total loss. While battling the blaze, firefighters had to be wary of a large propane tank next to the building, for which no one had the key.

The fire caused an estimated $300,000 in damage to the structure and another $70,000 in damage to its contents.

Deputy State Fire Marshals investigating the fire determined it started at the rear of the structure but its cause is still unknown.

The American Red Cross is assisting the displaced tenants, who are being put up in a Chestertown hotel.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Upper Eastern Regional Office of the State Fire Marshal at (410) 822-7609.

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