On Wednesday, January 12, 2022, at 6:26 am the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company, along with multiple mutual aid agencies, was dispatched for what would become the equivalent of a 2-Alarm Structure Fire at 98 Cannon Street. This is a locally popular restaurant on the Chestertown Waterfront, located at the Foot of Cannon Street. A 9-1-1 caller was reporting smoke coming from the building’s roof.
At the time, the wind was coming up the river. Chestertown VFC members crossing the Chester River Bridge enroute to the station, reported restricted visibility on the bridge due to smoke. First arriving, a Chief Officer from the Church Hill VFC whom happened to be in Chestertown at the time, reported smoke showing from the structure.
At first, it was difficult to get a good luck at the building as it was completely enveloped in smoke. The first fire suppression crews, one from the Church Hill VFC and one from the Chestertown VFC, were the first to enter the restaurant. The Chestertown crew made entry through the front door, through the dining room & bar. There, they encountered a smoke condition but no fire. In fact, other than some slight smoke damage, the dining room and bar area sustained relatively slight to no damage. The Church Hill crew, entering through the (back) side door (upriver / bridge side) into the kitchen, encountered heavy fire, which was banked down to the floor and pushing towards the door. With unflinching courage, the Church Hill crew made an aggressive fire attack and achieved a quick knock down, gaining control of the fire.
Because of the tremendous volume of fire in the kitchen area, and the volume of smoke generated as a result, heat and smoke created extremely challenging working conditions. When our Tower 6 arrived, they immediately set-up the elevating platform to the roof, with instructions to cut a vent hole for vertical ventilation. Investigating the integrity of the roof, the Tower crew determined its condition, over the main body of fire, was soft and unstable. This necessitated placing the vent hole more towards the downriver side of the structure. The vent hole can be seen in one of the external photographs.
Many wonder why fire crews will cut a hole in the roof. Fire crews are sometimes hard pressed by extreme heat, and hampered by poor, even zero, visibility. These conditions make our job difficult to impossible, and sometimes even dangerous. The fastest way to alleviate the situation is through vertical ventilation… venting the smoke, heat, and sometimes even actual fire, out through the vent hole. While cutting a vent hole does inflict additional damage to the structure, at the end of the day by allowing fire crews to work quickly and with more comfort, additional damage is alleviated, lessening the overall loss.
Unfortunately, the entire kitchen area was completely gutted by fire. The good news? There were no injuries because of this fire. Sadly, extensive, lengthy repairs are needed before 98 Cannon will be able to reopen.
It required the efforts of 60 firefighters to control this fire.
Delmarva Power was requested. They came to the scene and disconnected the electric power.
The Maryland State Fire Marshals Office was requested. Deputy Fire Marshals responded and are conducting an Origin & Cause Investigation. The results of that investigation were not available upon publication of this release.
Due to the frigid air temperature, ice quickly formed on the pavement around the building, creating slippery conditions. A salt truck and crew from the Chestertown Department of Public Works came to the scene. They spread salt around, promoting traction and safety, helping prevent potential fall injuries. We thank Chestertown DPW and their crew for helping us out.
Last, we would like to extend a very special Thank You to the Goldsboro (Caroline County) VFC for standing by at our station. We know this is a mundane, disappointing assignment during an extensive incident. However, providing continued fire & life safety coverage to a community is a critical role which should never be overlooked, nor not appreciated. We, the entire Fire & EMS community, stands ready to provide this important coverage, no matter when or where needed.
Photographs by the Chestertown VFC. Media may use photographs.
Organizations & Agencies Dispatched and / or On Scene…