- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Flames spread throughout a Leonardtown home and billowed through the roof Friday morning, destroying the three-story residence and displacing the owner, her three young children and a guest.
Fire also heavily damaged a Mechanicsville home on Monday, displacing a family that lived there.
Deputy state fire marshals are investigating the causes of both fires, and they began arriving at Erica Pohnel’s home on Domitilla Court in Leonardtown’s Academy Hills neighborhood while more than 30 volunteer firefighters were battling the blaze. They were dispatched to the scene at about 10:42 a.m., after construction workers in the neighborhood spotted the fire. No one was home, but firefighters initially were advised that one or more people might be trapped in the residence.
“I left about 10 minutes before,” Pohnel said Monday afternoon, after going through the charred structure with an insurance adjuster. She was at a gym in California where she works as a personal trainer when she got word of the fire.
“I was teaching a class and I got a phone call that I had to come home,” she said.
Leonardtown firefighters went in through the front door of the burning house, where the fire had begun on that floor. They soon were joined by Hollywood firefighters until high winds pushed the flames up into the second floor and attic, according to an online report by Leonardtown volunteer firefighter Sam Wernecke. “Conditions deteriorated to the point where the house was evacuated,” Wernecke wrote, and the firefighters began dousing the flames from outside.
“They say it took seven minutes for the whole house to go under,” Pohnel said Monday.
The loss to the structure and contents was estimated at $300,000, according to a notice of investigation by deputy state fire marshal Dexter Hodges.
“They’re going to just tear it down and rebuild it,” Pohnel said. “Nothing was salvageable. The only thing I found was my Bible.”
Pohnel said she and her children have been receiving many donations, including clothes and toys, in part through her workplace and a church, and that they are staying in a motel until she can rent a new home.
Family flees burning home on Old Village Road
More than 40 Mechanicsville, Hollywood, 7th District, Leonardtown, Hughesville and Benedict volunteer firefighters were dispatched at 5:47 p.m. Monday to the fire at Dennis Burch’s three-story home on Old Village Road, the fire marshal’s office reports, and they battled the blaze for 30 minutes to bring it under control.
The occupants heard a noise coming from the rear of the house, which alerted them to the fire before they immediately went outside and called 911, according to a notice of investigation by deputy state fire marshal Caryn McMahon. The back portion of the home was destroyed by the blaze, and the loss to the structure and its contents was estimated at $75,000. American Red Cross volunteers also responded to assist the displaced family. The fire marshal’s office has requested that anyone with information about the blaze call 443-550-6831.