House destroyed by fire; no injuries reported

CHESTERTOWN — By sunrise on Thursday morning, a two-story home in the Coventry Farms neighborhood had been mostly reduced to rubble.

The stone facade at the front entrance was still standing, but all that remained of the house itself were charred timbers.

The shell of the attached garage was still intact, but from the roadside it was clear that anything inside had been destroyed.

The good news: No injuries were reported.

The Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal determined that the fire originated inside the home on the first floor.

The cause is under investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to call the fire marshal’s Upper Eastern Regional Office at 410-822-7609.

The fire marshal’s office estimated loss at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The homes adjacent to the destroyed dwelling sustained visible damage as their siding buckled due to the fire’s heat.

According to the OSFM, the house at 247 Devon Drive — in what is known as Coventry II — was unoccupied at the time of the fire.

The fire marshal’s office and first responders said there was a delay of 911 notification because no one was home.

The OSFM and the state Department of Assessments and Taxation website identified the owner as Stephen Quigg.

According to the SDAT website, Quigg purchased the home on Aug. 30. It is listed as his principal residence.

Quigg is the head chef and owner of The Kitchen at the Imperial on High Street in downtown Chestertown.

On its Facebook page, the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company reported that the homeowner did come to the scene. They did not require Red Cross assistance and would be staying with family.

According to the fire marshal’s office, a neighbor called in the fire at 6:01 a.m.

The Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company, which was the first on the scene of what turned out to be a two-alarm blaze, posted on its Facebook page that multiple 911 callers reported a “residential dwelling well-involved with fire.”

Officers with the Chestertown Police Department already were on the scene when the first CVFC engine arrived.

The house was “100% involved with fire, ” the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company reported on its Facebook page, and “it was evident the fire had been burning undiscovered for an extended period.”

According to investigators, a smoke alarm was present but it was unknown if the device activated.

The roof already had fallen in, followed by the second floor just before the arrival of the first CVFC engine, according to the Facebook post.

“The extent of the fire, and the condition of the structure, precluded any chances of executing interior firefighting operations,” according to the Facebook post.

The first engine went immediately to a “master stream” operation, hitting the fire with the top-mounted deck gun.

At first, all potential occupants were unaccounted for.

Subsequently, it was determined that there was no one in the home at the time of the fire and there were no pets inside.

With a full basement and the first-floor surface burned away, it was impossible to send crews into the structure for “overhaul/mopping up operations,” the Chestertown fire company posted on Facebook.

For the safety of all personnel, all operations were conducted either from the exterior with hand-held hose lines, and from above, using the master streams on the bucket of the tower ladder.

The fire marshal’s office reported that 40 firefighters responded to the scene and brought the fire under control in an hour.

According to the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company’s social media post, 18 of the 40 firefighters were from Chestertown.

CVFC reported that its crews were on the scene for about four hours.

According to the Facebook post, an engine from the Community Fire Company of Millington stood by for the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company — first at the scene, then from the firehouse — and handled a medical assistance call.

According to the CVFC, the following agencies were dispatched and on the scene: Betterton, Chestertown, Galena, Kennedyville, Millington and Rock Hall fire companies; Church Hill, Crumpton and Sudlersville fire companies from Queen Anne’s County; Kent-Queen Anne’s Rescue Squad; Kent County EMS; Chestertown Police Department; Kent County Sheriff’s Office; Maryland State Police; Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office; and Delmarva Power.

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