‘Incredible’ series of fires leave behind devastation

CHARLES TOWN—Citizens Fire Company volunteer firefighters found themselves dealing with an unprecedented six fires in six days in May, even as they provide aid to the Locust Hill Golf Club, which suffered a fire in February.

Ronald Fletcher, president of the fire company, said the week of May 19 was “incredible. The only good thing was there was no loss of life.”

The Dairy Queen on South Mildred Street in Ranson was destroyed in a fire and then there was a fire in the men’s employee bathroom at the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown, a fire involving a light fixture at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, a fire at Stephanie Pierson Smith’s et cetera boutique on Washington Street downtown and fires at homes on Chestnut Street in Shannondale and on Flowing Springs Road outside of Shepherdstown.

“The worst was the Dairy Queen,” Fletcher said. “The Bavarian was an electrical problem, we think, as were the other fires, except the Chestnut Street fire, which was arson.”

The start of June brought another fire – this time at China Fortune on George Street in Charles Town. Owner Sen Lin says he’s unsure how long his restaurant will be closed works with his insurance company. “I’m waiting to hear from my insurance company,” he  said. “We just have to deal with it, I guess.”

Fletcher, a member of the fire company for 15 years, also works as a deputy with the Jefferson County Sheriff Department. He doesn’t surprise easily, but said last month’s fire calls had him shaking his head in disbelief.

Citizens Fire Company at 245 Citizens Way has 65 volunteers. It has been part of Charles Town since 1884.

The company’s equipment includes two fire engines, one ladder truck, a brush truck and two ambulances. Seven fire companies cover all of Jefferson County.

Fletcher said the firefighters are like a family. “We’re all very close,” he said. “We all want to serve the community that has given so much to us.”

Citizens firefighters have been serving the community in a different way after fire struck the Locust Hill Golf Club at 278 St. Andrews Drive on Feb. 28. The club house and maintenance building owned by the Home Hill Corp. were destroyed along with about 160 golf carts.

Charles Town Councilman Wayne Clark called the loss a big one for the community.

“This facility is a recreational facility for so many people,” said Clark of the 18-hold Locust Hill course, which also has a driving range and practice putting green. “It has 25,000 golf rounds a year.”

Citizens, which has an annual golf tournament fundraiser at the club, decided to lend Locust Hill its concession trailer so activities at the club could continue. The trailer will remain until repairs to the club house are completed.

“Without the trailer, we would not have been able to open,” Clark said.

Fletcher said the trailer is fully equipped and measures 28 feet long by 8 feet wide. “It has everything you need to cook,” he said. “We take it to the Jefferson County Fair every year.”

Clark has decided to buy the club and expects to close on the sale Friday.

“We have customers of all ages,” he said. “We host the First Tee of West Virginia, a youth organization that teaches kids golf skills. Repairs to the club are still taking place but we can still operate because of Citizens Fire Company.”

 

 

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