OC Fire Cause Under Investigation

OC Fire1

OCEAN CITY — The fire that destroyed a three-unit townhouse off 94th Street last Sunday afternoon likely began on the exterior of the building facing the roadway and spread to the attic areas, although the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.
Around 2:25 p.m. last Sunday, Ocean City Communications received a call for a house fire in progress in the bayside area of 94th Street. The Ocean City Fire Department responded, as did units from the Ocean Pines Fire Department and Bethany Beach Fire Department, the latter of which was among the first on the scene. The new Ocean City Fire Boat also responded to the canal behind the structure on fire, but was largely an insurance policy on standby to prevent a possible spreading of the blaze, which was largely confined to the front of the building.
Initial witness reports indicate the fire began on the exterior of the building and rapidly consumed the vinyl siding and porches on the front of the units before spreading into the attic areas, which was not equipped with a sprinkler system as allowed by code. The building did have an active sprinkler system, which is largely credited with preventing the fire from spreading into the occupied areas of the building.
“If you look at the front of the building compared to the back of the building, there is a tremendous difference,” said Ocean City Fire Marshal David Hartley this week. “All three units had domestic sprinkler systems that held the fire from entering into the living areas. There was very little fire damage inside, but there was smoke and water damage.”O
Hartley said the domestic sprinkler systems did exactly what they were intended to do.
“They’re not designed to protect the building,” he said. “They’re really designed to allow the people inside enough time to get out safely. If somebody was in there asleep, for example, they would have had plenty of time to get out. That’s what these systems do and that’s why they are so important.”
The fire was brought under control fairly quickly and no injuries were reported, according to the city. The building itself will likely be deemed a total loss despite the domestic sprinkler systems preventing a spread of the fire into the living areas. Hartley said this week the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.
“We’re done with the scene, although the investigation is ongoing and still open,” he said. “We’re still trying to determine what caused this fire.”

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