Fire Destroys Family’s Home In Ocean Pines; Juvenile Play Identified As Cause

Fire Destroys Family’s Home In Ocean Pines; Juvenile Play Identified As Cause
What remained of an Ocean Pines home after Tuesday night’s fire is pictured the next morning. Photo by Campos Media

OCEAN PINES – Officials attributed juvenile fire play as the cause of a house fire that left nine Ocean Pines residents homeless this week.

At around 10 p.m. on Tuesday, June 1, Worcester County Emergency Services received reports of a house fire in the 300 block of Ocean Parkway in Ocean Pines. When crews arrived at the scene, the house was engulfed in flames.

“When we got there, the house was pretty much fully involved at that point,” Fire Chief Steve Grunewald said this week.

Officials say the house where the fire originated was occupied by four adults and five children between the ages of 2 and 12. While the home’s occupants made it out safely, an Ocean Pines firefighter was transported to Atlantic General Hospital with a leg injury and later released.

Officials say volunteer fire departments from Ocean Pines, Berlin, Ocean City, Showell and Bishopville remained on the scene for four hours to extinguish the fire, which also damaged the exterior of two adjacent homes. While there were initial reports of a dead fire hydrant at the scene, Grunewald was quick to dispel the rumors this week.

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“There was no dead hydrant …,” he said. “It just took a while to turn on.”

The scene of the fire was turned over to the Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office for further investigation this week. In a statement issued Wednesday, the agency attributed the house fire to juvenile fire play.

“Red Cross assisted the 9 displaced residents with temporary housing and clothing,” the statement reads. “The cause of the fire is contributed to juvenile fire play.”

In response to Tuesday’s house fire, members of the Ocean Pines community are rallying to assist the displaced occupants.

Organizers Colby Phillips and Lisa Layfield have established drop-off locations for clothing and gift cards at the Sports Core Pool, the Public Works Department, and 293 Ocean Parkway. Additional information on requested items and sizes can be found on the Facebook page.

A fundraiser has also been shared through the “Fire Relief Fundraiser for Harmon Family/Ocean Pines,” Facebook page, which has raised more than $2,600 as of Wednesday afternoon.

“On Tuesday evening … the Harmon family in Ocean Pines lost everything to a horrific house fire,” the Facebook fundraiser reads. “Thank God everyone got out safely, but they lost absolutely everything. This has affected two families: siblings and their children that in the home, they are the children & grandchildren of our dear friends Will & Valenita Harmon. Their entire family is simply devastated.”

The post continues, “Please donated in any way that you can … many small gestures amount to great things. The funds will be utilized to help get into a rental, groceries, get furnishing, etc.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.