(July 11, 2014) A pair of major house fires that broke out within minutes of each other in Worcester County are still under investigation.
The dueling blazes decimated residences in the areas of Riverview Drive and Old Bridge Road on June 26.
Multiple companies from Worcester, Wicomico and Sussex county fire departments responded to both incidents.
The first reported incident occurred in the home of Joe and Ruth Waters near the 11000 block of Riverview in St. Martin’s by the Bay near Berlin, a development of town homes and single-family houses. Emergency calls initially came into Worcester Central and were transferred to the Ocean City Fire Department. Fire Boat 1 was dispatched to aid in the firefight.
“Our hearts go out to Joe and Ruth Waters,” said Justin McGinnis, president of the Saint Martin’s Home Owner’s Association. “Everyone in the community did everything they could – they were there early to assist and stayed there most of the night – and the fire department and volunteers did a wonderful job containing the fire.”
McGinnis said the home was “completely lost.”
“Joe and Ruth are both wonderful members of the community, and anything we can do to help going forward we would be happy to do so,” he said.
A second call came in four minutes later to the OCFD to investigate an incident on the 12000 block of Old Bridge Road in West Ocean City. The home belonged to Jennifer and Brian Pusey.
Officials said both blazes were under control by 11 p.m. No injuries were reported in either case.
Worcester County Deputy Fire Chief Matt Owens, who was on the scene during West Ocean City fire, called the pair of incidents “extremely unusual” and described both houses as “a total loss.”
The cause of both fires is currently listed as “undetermined” although, in a curious twist, both fires are believed to have originated inside the screened-in back porches of the homes.
Damage to neighboring homes was minimal.
“The one in West Ocean City was confined to the house of origin, and then there was some siding that was damaged on a townhouse that was in close proximity,” Owens said. “And then the one in Saint Martin’s by the Bay, the house adjacent to it had some siding that was melted also, but it was just minimal damage compared to the house that was involved.”
The fire marked the Worcester County debut of Fire Boat 1.
“It was utilized to supply water for the fire at Cape Isle of Wight,” Owens said. “I think that’s the first time since Ocean City put it in service that Worcester County has actually utilized it.”
A Facebook page “Donations to the Pusey Family Fire Recovery,” was started on July 1. Donations of cash, check or gift cards can be dropped off or mailed to TMFG c/o Christina Ager, 6200 Coastal Highway #101, Ocean City, Md. 21842 re: Jennifer Smith Pusey. Cash or Checks may also be dropped off at any Calvin B. Taylor Banking Co. Use memo line “donation fund.”