Sykesville Hit By Worst Fire In History

October 21, 1937

$50,000 Blaze Sweeps Entire Block In Business Section

Sykesville suffered probably the worst fire in its history today as a blaze, raging for more than two hours, leveled nearly an entire block in the business section.

Only the two-story brick building housing the Meadows’ Drug Store, survived the flames when firemen from more than a half dozen volunteer companies, after a dogged fight, brought the blaze under control.

Four business houses and a physician’s office were wiped out and three or four families rendered homeless by the fire, thought to have started hfrom a chimney.

Fanned by a brisk wind, the flames quickly swept from one to another of the frame store buildings with apartments overhead. The firemen laid hose lines and pumped water from the Patapsco River, more than 500 feet away.

Damage, expected to top $50,000, was caused. Only a small part of this was covered by insurance.

Places destroyed were:

Forsyth’s Market.

Dr. H. A. Barnes’ office and apartment.

William Mason Jones,Mason Jones, general store.

LeRoy Keeney, barber shop.

Edward Barnes, cigar store apartment.

Apartments occupied by Mrs. Frank Barnes and William Hayes and family.Probably the heaviest individual loss was the Forsyth Market. The new store and contents, Henry Forsyth, owner, said, represented about $6,000 insurance.

The fire was breaking through the roof of the Forsyth building at the lower end of the block, when discovered. Sykesville firemen, responding to the alarm, hooked up to the river plug at the local B. & O. Railroad station.

The pipe line was jammed, however, and precious minutes were lost as the local volunteers, working feverishly, coupled the connection, took the end across the bridge and dropped a suction line into the river.

The single stream of water was no match for the swiftly marching flames, and mill companies from nearby towns arrived, firemen and civilians fought a daring battle.

Fire companies responded from Westminster, Mt. Airy, Ellicott City, Reisterstown, Glyndon, Catonsville and other nearby points. Emergency calls were handled with fine dispatch by the local telephone office.

Highway and railway traffic was tied for more than two hours as firemen poured tons of water into the seething mass of flames.

Trains were held up on the B. & O. site as hose lines were stretched across the tracks to the river, the only available water supply.

Furniture from some of the apartments was carried to safety as many onlookers, attracted to the blaze, gave balance to the firemen. A carload of patients was sent from Springfield State Hospital to render help.

A warehouse of the Maryland Milling Supply Company, the drug store Building, the Old Stone Store and the fire engine house were structures immediately endangered, but saved from flames.

Some of his instruments were saved by Dr. Parnes, but he and his wife escaped with only the clothes they were wearing. They will stay for awhile at the home of Mr. and Mrs. W. S. Church. During the height of the blaze sparks seared the roof of the William Melville home, more than three blocks away. The blaze was quickly extinguished by an out-of-town company arriving at the fire.

Sparks also ignited an awning over the post office.

No one was reported seriously hurt, though several firemen suffered from smoke, cuts and exhaustion.

The fire started around 10:30 a. m. and by 2:30 firemen had it under control. They remained on the scene until after 5 p. m.

More than a dozen people were thrown out of employment as result of the fire.

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