Mt. Airy, MD Fire, Feb 1903


Fifteen Buildings, Including Two Hotels, Burned.


Frederick Again Called Upon for Aid and United Fire Company Checks the Conflagration and Prevents Destruction of Other Property.

Mt. Airy, which suffered a serious fire only a few weeks ago, was again visited by a destructive conflagration this morning. The fire was in the business section of the town and destroyed the following buildings, all of which were frame:

Clay & Clary’s grocery store and creamery.
Henry Weber’s butcher shop.
J. H. Klee’s harness shop.
Adam Ruland’s bakery.
C. E. Simpson’s hotel.
Raymond Barnes’ dwelling and furniture store. In this building were also Clifton Sponseller’s dry goods store and Miss McWilliams’ millinery store.
Miss Mary Dyer’s residence and dress-making establishment.
J. C. Gilbert’s hotel.
Byron S. Dorsey’s farm implement store and warehouse, separate buildings.
W. R. Rudy’s drug store, in which was the Mr. Airy postoffice. [sic]
L. B. Norwood’s dwelling and grocery store.
W. E. T. Smith’s harness shop.
William Outshall’s large fertilizer warehouse.
B. & O. Railroad track supervisor’s office.

The fire started about 2:30 o’clock in the grocery store and creamery of Clay & Clary and its origin is unknown. Weber’s butcher shop and Klee’s harness shop, which stood on either side of the Clay & Clary building, were the next to catch fire and the other buildings were burned in the order given above.

About 3 o’clock it was found that the fire was likely to sweep the town and a telephone message, asking for aid, was sent to Frederick. Mayor Smith was called up and gave orders to the policemen to assist in getting apparatus off, but not to leave the city. President Joseph W. Gaver and other officials of the United Fire Company were also aroused and arranged with Mr. W. T. Mullinix of the B. & O. Railroad to send the company’s steamer and hose carriages to Mt. Airy on a special train. It was necessary to get a gondola and a passenger coach, did not leave Frederick until 5:29 o’clock. About fifteen firemen accompanied the apparatus, which was in charge of Assistant Foreman W. D. Lipps.

The special reached Mt. Airy shortly after six o-clock and the firemen set to work immediately without unloading the engine. A large railroad engine was run alongside of the gondola and the fire engine took water from its tank. Four locomotives, each with a tank capacity of 7,000 gallons, were kept busy supplying the fire engine with water in this way.

The firemen quickly got the fire under control. They arrived just in time to save Wm. H. Hood’s large general merchandise store, which adjoined the Norwood property. On the other side of the Hood property stands Rankles Bros.’ large flour mill and grain elevator, which would undoubtedly have been destroyed but for the timely arrival of the Frederick firemen and their apparatus.

Until the arrival of the train from Frederick the fire was fought as well as possible by a bucket brigade, Mt. Airy having no fire-fighting equipment. The people of the town also worked energetically in carrying out the contents of the doomed buildings and a great deal of property was saved in this way. The contents of the postoffice [sic] were gotten out of the Rudy building before the flames reached it, and great quantities of furniture and store goods were carried beyond the reach of the fire.



The Frederick firemen continued throwing water until about 10:30 o’clock. At that time the fire was still burning, but the danger of its spreading was over and the firemen turned their attention to the work of tearing down parts of the burned buildings which were still standing.

The entire loss is roughly estimated at $65,000. Nothing definite could be learned regarding the insurance on the property burned.

The Frederick firemen arrived home about 12:35 o’clock this afternoon. They were warmly thanked by the people of Mt. Airy.

Two of the firemen, Harry Bennett and George Chow, were badly injured by being caught beneath falling timbers. Bennett had his right leg crushed and Chow had one of his ankles sprained.

The News, Frederick, MD 24 Feb 1903



Mt. Airy once before visited by a large conflagration which almost wiped out the entire town. It was back in 1903 when the village was heavily struck. There were two fires within a month.

The larger fire occurred early in the morning of February 25. The fire was in the business section of the town and about 15 stores and business properties were burned to the ground. The fire started in the store of Clay and Clary and rapidly spread to adjoining structures. The apparatus of the United Company, in charge of Foreman Lipps, was hastened to Mt. Airy on a special train, and the local firemen did valient [sic] service. Four locomotives with a tank capacity of 7,000 gallons, were kept busy supplying the engine with water.

By the timely arrival of the firemen, the following properties were saved: W. H. Hood’s general merchandise store, Runkle Bros. mill and the property adjoining.

The following property was burned: Clay & Clary’s store, Henry Weber’s blacksmith shop, J. H. Klee’s harness shop, Adam Ruland’s bakery, C. E. Simpson’s hotel, Raymond Barnes’ dwelling, Miss Mary Dyer’s house and store, J. C. Gilbert’s hotel, Byron S. Dorsey’s store, W. R. Rudy’s drug store, L. B. Norwood’s dwelling, W. E. Smith’s harness shop, William Curshall’s harness shop, B. & O. track supervisor’s office.

The entire loss was estimated at $65,000.

The News, Frederick, MD 25 Mar 1914