Vehicles burned Monday morning at an Annapolis, Maryland, used car dealership, closing roads and a charter school as firefighters worked to keep the blaze from spreading to a nearby structure.
Annapolis city firefighters were dispatched to the Annapolis Car Center, a used car dealership at 2000 West St. off eastbound U.S. Route 50, around 6:30 a.m. for a report of several vehicle fires.
They found about a half dozen cars on fire in the dealership’s lot amid sparking power lines and burning utility poles. Aerial footage from WTOP’s news partners at NBC Washington showed firefighters moving to protect the business’ office as flames advanced up the line of parked vehicles.
Live wires even fell on fire hoses, requiring first responders to back away for their own safety and assume what battalion fire chief John Ortlieb called a “defensive operation” until Baltimore Gas and Electric could cut power to the block.
“The electricity really hampered the operation because of the high voltage wires hanging over the cars as well as some of the hose lines,” Ortlieb told WTOP. “It becomes a bad situation, there’s a chance of some of our personnel being injured. Unfortunately, you can’t really train for something like this.”
Once the power was out, Ortlieb said the fire was quickly brought under control. WTOP’s John Domen later saw firefighters cutting into smoldering cars to knock down remaining hot spots.
“I count nine cars totally scorched, but more could have less significant damage too,” Domen said. “Thirteen total with damage, I was just told. Some by wires that fell on them.”
Took a while for BGE to shut power down here. When fire caused live wires to fall one fell across a hose used by FFs. pic.twitter.com/QdmgJGEfvf
— John Domen (@JDDsays) February 3, 2020
Investigators had yet to establish a cause for the fire on Monday morning. Flames left their mark on the dealership office’s outer walls, but Gotlieb said the fire did not spread inside owing to the building’s cinder block construction.
BGE said 700 customers lost power Monday morning during efforts to contain the fire.
Monarch Academy Annapolis canceled Monday classes due to the nearby fire department activity and related closure on West Street.
Below is a map of the area.
WTOP’s John Domen reported from Annapolis, Maryland. WTOP’s Alicia Abelson also contributed to this report.