Delaware

Investigators working to determine cause and origin of Slaughter Beach blaze

Investigators working to determine...

SLAUGHTER BEACH, Del. - For many, Christmas Day was spent opening presents, enjoying family time and making memories. Unfortunately for at least five families on Delmarva, Christmas 2017 won't be one they'll look back on fondly. 

That's because three major fires took place on Christmas day, the worst one in Slaughter Beach. 

Tom Reiss, a Slaughter Beach local said, "It's gotta be the worst fire in Slaughter Beach history I would think."

Tuesday morning ashes still smoldered as State Fire investigators worked to determine what sparked the massive blaze.

Terry Jester, the Fire Chief of Memorial Fire Company said, "When our first engine arrived on scene, we had two houses fully involved in fire and two garages on fire and three propane tanks that were venting because of the heat."

Photos of fire credited to: Indian River Fire Company, Jeff Davidson

According to firefighters, it was almost a perfect storm as weather conditions made fighting the blaze close to impossible. 

Reiss said, "They had cold, they had wind, they had no hydrants, lack of water, a little bit of a delayed response, lack of man power, I mean every size up factor there is, was against them."

Chief Jester told 47ABC the high winds carried the blaze over to neighboring homes and surrounding brush. "There was a lot of fire out on the beach, on the beach grass," he said.

According to fire officials, the blaze started shortly after 7:00 PM, but because of the conditions, many firefighters spent their Christmas night battling the inferno.

Chief Jester said, "We got done out of here right around midnight and then by the time we got our equipment back together, it was around two in the morning."

Luckily, no one was hurt in the fire. 

In the end, the fire only claimed two homes and damaged three others, but officials said it could have been much worse had it not been for the efforts of nearby stations. 

Chief Jester said, "All the fire fighters that come, I mean, they did a fantastic job and saved a lot of the houses because if they wouldn't have made a knock down, it would have burned many of these places down, the way the wind was blowing."

Chief Jester told 47ABC investigators should be determining the cause and origin of the fire soon. We will provide updates right here on our website and social media pages as they come in.


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