House fires, lines down among dozens of emergency calls during wind storm

A fire at a single family home in the Key Acres subdivision off the 1900 block of Fairview Drive brought fire crews from around the region on Monday, February 25.

The fire was first reported as a dryer fire shortly after 11 a.m. but spread throughout the home, stoked by continuing high winds on Monday. Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company Asst. Chief James Steiner was in command of the response, which was upgraded to a structure fire.

Fire units from Berkeley Springs, Great Cacapon, South Morgan, Hancock, Little Orleans, and Needmore responded to the scene to put out the fire and manage flare-ups. Crews were on the scene until 4 p.m. Other personnel responded from Clear Spring,

Fire crews worked Monday on a house fire off Fairview Drive in Berkeley Springs. photo by DJ Zahnow

Williamsport, South Morgan and Morgan County EMS. An Air and Emergency Rehab unit from Hagerstown also lent aid during the fire response.

Severe fire damage to the home was a result of the fire, estimates on damages are presently unknown, said Berkeley Springs fire officials. The American Red Cross was called to assist the family of the Key Lane fire. No injuries were reported.

The call came on the heels of dozens of wind-related calls that taxed first responders from Sunday through Monday night.

Fire officials with Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company said within 25 minutes of high winds hitting the area, their crews began responding to what would be the first of 25 calls for service over the next 36 hours.

The first call came in shortly before 5 p.m. for an outside fire threatening a house. According to Lt. Zachary Sipe, the caller reported a generator caught fire and melted the siding and blew out a window on the house.

Crews responded immediately from the station but were delayed getting to the call because a large pine tree had fallen across Pious Ridge Road. Hancock Volunteer Fire Company was first to arrive at that fire and found smoke showing. Crews operated there for an hour and cleared at 5:54 p.m. Within ten minutes of clearing the house fire, at Engine 12 responded to the first of numerous trees and wires down, said Sipe.

Within the first seven hours of the wind storm, Berkeley Springs responded to eight calls for service. Between midnight and 5:30 a.m. on Monday, the company responded to eight more calls for service. Between 5:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Monday, the department responded to nine more calls for wires down and active fires.

At one point in time the same crew was on the fire engine known as Wagon 1 for 12 consecutive hours, said Sipe.

Some calls that were dispatched to Berkeley Springs were handled by fire crews from Williamsport, Md. and Hustontown, Pa. The company also received a transfer of a rescue squad from Chambersburg Squad 41 in case of additional calls for service, and South Morgan Volunteer Fire Company received a transfer from Shepherdstown. The transfers were hard to find due to manpower shortages and high call volumes in the surrounding counties as well, said Sipe.

Safety tips

Fire officials offered tips to residents regarding downed power lines. They advised that if individuals see downed power lines that are arcing, sparking, or smoking, or it is unknown if they are active lines, call 911. If downed lines are clearly not smoking or sparking, report them to the power company directly. Potomac Edison can be reached by calling 1-888-544-4877.

Fire officials also urged residents to have their chimneys cleaned on the next warm day to help cut down on chimney fires for the