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Firefighters from Charles and St. Mary’s counties had to evacuate the structure twice while fighting a house fire in Charlotte Hall on Monday.

Just before noon a homeowner reported a fire in the basement of a home on the 13400 block of Ryceville Road.

According to information from the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office, it took 40 firefighters 40 minutes to extinguish the fire.

La Plata Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Mark Kaufmann said the first units to respond “pretty much took a beating.”

He said an evacuation alarm went out because hose lines were getting burned and there was trouble getting water.

Kaufmann said they didn’t want to have anyone in the house if there wasn’t flowing water.

La Plata Chief Matt Gilroy said the first evacuation was also called to regroup. Gilroy said a second alarm went out for more manpower.

Firefighters re-entered the home briefly but a second evacuation was called when the first floor of the structure collapsed.

Waldorf firefighter Allen Bizzel fell through the floor into the basement, but was able to walk out of the building. He attempted to cancel a “mayday” alert, given when a firefighter is in trouble, but problems with communication didn’t allow that, he said Monday afternoon.

Kaufmann said there were no reported injuries Monday afternoon and the house was “a complete loss.”

According to the fire marshal’s report there was an estimated $200,000 worth of damage to the structure and $50,000 in damage to contents in the home.

The home belongs to Mark and Billie Jo Clower. Family members on the scene did not comment.

According to the report there were multiple pets that were unaccounted for at the time of the report.

Representatives of the American Red Cross arrived on the scene but the family was able to seek shelter with relatives.

The origin and cause of the fire still are under investigation, according to the report.

A representative of the family said anyone interested in sending donations can email Lee Anne Clower Ayers at