A fast-moving fire gutted a two-story wood-frame house in the 800 block of South Potomac Street on Saturday, a fire official said.
Two dogs that were in the house at 820 S. Potomac St. died from heat and smoke as a result of the fire, Hagerstown Fire Department Capt. Adam Hopkins said.
No one was injured, and the lone occupant of the residence was not home at the time of the fire, Hopkins said. He did not know the name of the resident.
About 50 firefighters responded to the blaze, which was reported at about 11:40 a.m., Hopkins said.
A large volume of flames was coming out of the front and north side of the home when firefighters arrived, Hopkins said.
As the first engines pulled up, flames blew out of the south side of the home and began melting siding on the neighboring home at 826 S. Potomac St., Hopkins said.
“So we quickly got a hose on that and cooled down that house,” Hopkins said.
Except for the siding damage, firefighters were able to contain the fire and keep it from causing any more damage, and residents there were allowed to return home, Hopkins said.
A brick home on the north side of the flame-engulfed residence was not damaged.
Hopkins said it took 45 minutes to an hour for firefighters to bring the blaze under control.
“The fire was running the walls everywhere inside the house,” Hopkins said.
Everything sustained major heat damage, Hopkins said.
The fire appeared to begin on the first floor, but Hopkins said the cause of the blaze was being investigated by the state fire marshal’s office.
“The fire was well advanced when we got here,” Hopkins said.
Alan Schiff said he was waiting to get his hair cut at the nearby South Potomac Street Barbershop when he and others saw that the home was on fire.
Schiff said he and another man, who is a volunteer firefighter, went over to the home and took the back door down in an attempt to try to see if anyone was inside.
“(The) smoke was unbelievable, just a horrifying scene,” Schiff said.
Schiff described the smoke as being “very pungent.”
There was no way to enter the home because it already was fully engulfed, Schiff said.
The fire closed South Potomac Street between West Howard Street and West Wilson Boulevard for more than three hours.
With fire hoses laying in the middle of Potomac Street, Schiff was unable to leave his parking space.
“I should have walked (to the barbershop),” said Schiff, who lives nearby, but had errands to run Saturday and decided to drive.
Barbershop owner Robert Termin said he was unable to leave his business after closing at 2:30 p.m.
“It went up pretty hot,” Termin said of the fire.
Hopkins said firefighters from all six city fire stations were joined by personnel from Washington County Special Operations, Community Rescue Service, Washington County Air and Rehab units and the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co.
Schiff praised the firefighters’ efforts, saying they were pretty fast to respond.
“These firefighters, they are not paid enough,” Schiff said.