On Wednesday, September 27, 2023 at 2:11 pm, the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company, along with multiple mutual aid companies, was dispatched to a structure fire at 103 Church Alley in Downtown Chestertown. Chief 6 – John “Otis” Darling, who happened to be nearby, was the first to arrive at 2:15 pm. He went out with smoke showing from a combination office building, with an apartment in the rear. Shortly afterwards, he requested a Working Fire Dispatch, which adds additional resources to the incident.
As Chief Darling was executing his 360° assessment of the building, a bystander informed him there was a civilian still inside and was refusing to leave. With the assistance of the bystander, Chief Darling entered the structure, by then charged with a significant smoke condition, and brought the civilian out. This individual was turned over to EMS for treatment. The patient was subsequently transported to the Shore Medical Center at Chestertown for further evaluation.
Upon the arrival of fire apparatus, hose lines were stretched into the structure where crews quickly gained control of the situation. With the cause of the fire not immediately clear, the Fire Marshal was requested. A representative from the Maryland State Fire Marshals Office came to the scene. At this writing, this incident is under investigation. Questions may be directed to the Fire Marshals Office. There was extensive overhaul needed. (That is the detailed process of ensuring the fire is completely out.) The fire was placed under control at 2:51 pm.
While we were committed to this incident, our station was “filled in” by an additional unit from the Church Hill VFC, and a unit from the Clayton VFC of Delaware. This ensured our community had Fire & Life Safety Protection had there been another incident. Our thanks to these personnel for providing this important role.
Other than the civilian located inside at the outset, there were no other injuries. The power company was requested to cut electric service to the structure. A representative of Delmarva Power came to the scene. Chestertown Utilities responded to the scene to turn the water off, as there was damaged plumbing. County Facilities Maintenance was asked to come to the scene. We used the hydrant near the wrought iron fence surrounding the Court House. We found the nature of the fence makes it difficult to operate the hydrant. We asked if the county could make some changes to said fence, against the possibility of another incident requiring the use of this hydrant.
By 4:09 pm, our equipment and personnel were back in the station.