A fire that began in a lumberyard swept through downtown Crisfield, Md., Sunday night and early yesterday, destroying 11 buildings and causing an estimated $1.5 million in damage to the state's seafood capital on the lower Eastern Shore.
About 250 firefighters came to this Somerset County town from 16 companies in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia and fought the wind-fanned blaze throughout the night. A dozen firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation. No other injuries were reported.
The blaze began at 9:45 p.m. at J.P. Tawes & Bros. lumberyard and spread to other businesses, including a hardware store and two restaurants. The wind direction kept the fire away from a fuel yard next to Tawes.
Four nearby seafood packing houses on the waterfront also escaped damage as a result of the direction of the winds, which gusted up to 20 miles an hour. "If they had been blowing to the southeast, it would have been a different story," said Roy Evans, manager of the Bayside seafood plant.
While the blaze was being fought, electricity was cut off in the downtown section, causing some concern about seafood stored overnight. But officials said the power was back on yesterday morning and no food was spoiled.
"Nothing was lost except for a day's work," said Fritz Gerald, Crisfield's fire chief and owner of Bayside. Crab pickers usually report to work by 6 a.m., he said, but power did not return until about 6:30 a.m.
Staff writer Joseph E. Bouchard contributed to this report.