WEST OCEAN CITY – Three local juveniles were charged this week with setting the fire last Tuesday that claimed a 90-year-old vacant house not far from Keyser Point Rd. and snarled rush hour traffic in West Ocean City last Tuesday.
The Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office this week completed its investigation on the cause of the fire last Tuesday afternoon that destroyed a vacant home on an otherwise undeveloped 46-acre-plus parcel near the intersection of Center Drive and Keyser Point Rd. Following the blaze, officials canvassed the neighborhoods in the area and charged three juveniles this week with setting the fire, which occurred on a day when school was not in session because of primary elections.
Criminal charges against the three juveniles have been forwarded to the Department of Juvenile Justice for disciplinary actions. The three juveniles have been released to the custody of their parents, according to a Fire Marshal’s Office release.
The fire began sometime last Tuesday afternoon. First-arriving units found the residence, built in 1920, completely engulfed in flames with fire spreading into the nearby woods. Firefighters and equipment from all over the region responded to the fire as the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company was assisted by volunteer fire companies from Ocean Pines, Berlin, Showell and Bishopville. Other fire companies from nearby Sussex County, Del. provided manpower to help battle the blaze.
According to the Fire Marshal’s Office, it took over 75 firefighters from Maryland and Delaware over eight hours to completely extinguish the fire. Three firefighters were injured while fighting the fire and were treated for their injuries. In addition, the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company also suffered damages to one of its fire engines.
The fire caused major traffic tie-ups throughout the West Ocean City area on the north side of Route 50 during the afternoon rush hour of business and school traffic. For example, Keyser Point Rd. was blocked off at the fire station not far from Route 50, and Center Drive was blocked off just west of Ocean City Elementary School.
Ultimately, an excavator was used to demolish what remained of the house built in 1920 due to structural instability. Although the residence itself was old and had been unoccupied for several years, the value of the parcel lies in the vast 46-acre expanse of waterfront property. The property is currently listed for sale for around $3.5 million. The most recent assessment of the property listed the value of the land at $1.2 million and the value of the nearly 2,700-square-foot house at just over $31,000.