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Sandy Spring Museum officials thank fire department for quick response –

by Judith Hruz, Editor

and Terri Hogan, Senior Staff Writer

Sandy Spring Museum officials are thanking Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department for quickly extinguishing a fire that broke out at the museum on Jan. 13 before the fire could spread and cause extensive damage.

During the museum’s History Happy Hour event on Jan. 17, staff publicly thanked the fire department.

“They thanked us for our quick action,” fire department President Johnie Roth said.

“I told them that it was rare to have recent fires at two important community sites that are only a few blocks apart,” he said, referring to the fire at Olney Ale House on Dec. 3. “This is a very unique area and a pretty cool community to live in.”

Roth said the fire department appreciates the gratitude.

“We are just doing our job, but it’s always nice to be recognized — by the sign in front of the Ale House and now at the museum. That makes us proud. I’m very appreciative of our members and of the community for recognizing us.”

A small fire began in the ceiling breezeway of the museum’s Farquhar Gallery about 7 p.m. Heavy smoke tripped the fire alarm, alerting the fire department.

Sandy Spring Chief Mitch Dinowitz said the fire was likely started by a vent fan.

Upon entry, firefighters followed the smoke and discovered a small fire in the ceiling between the Exhibit Hall and Ladson Research Library, museum officials said.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire quickly, but there is some damage to the structure. A large portion of the ceiling and wooden beams were removed, lighting was damaged, and there is extensive charring to the remaining beams, officials said.

Damage is currently estimated at $50,00. There is no damage to artifacts or artwork

“We are thankful that the fire department arrived so quickly and that there was so little damage,” Executive Director Allison Weiss says in a prepared statement. “Without the swift response of the Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department, the outcome would have been much worse. We are so grateful.”

Lauren Pierce, marketing director for the museum, said no one was in the building when the fire began.

“The fire alarm went off and automatically called the fire department, and tripped phone calls to the staff members, so we all arrived pretty quickly,” she said.

“It could have been so much worse,” she said.

Sandy Spring Capt. Brendan Bonita confirmed that the museum’s working fire alarm system saved the building.

The fire department’s Station 4 is less than a mile away from the museum.

Some events were canceled in the days immediately following the fire, but the museum was back in business Jan. 16.


    Public Service Announcement from Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department: Working smoke alarms save lives and can save property. When was the last time you checked your smoke alarms?

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