EASTON — A large fire broke out at the Easton Servicecenter at 503 North Street mid-morning on Jan. 22, with several fire departments in Talbot County responding to the call to fight off a blaze that torched several parts of the building and at least two vehicles inside the auto shop.
Ten fire departments responded to the two-alarm fire. Those include fire departments from: Grasonville, Cambridge, Preston, Denton, Oxford, Trappe, St. Michaels, Cordova, Easton and Queen Anne’s.
Firefighters dispatched at 11:08 p.m. and had contained the fire around noon. Fifty-four personnel stayed to fight off the blaze until roughly 2 p.m.
A Talbot County Emergency Services spokesman said everyone inside the building evacuated safely and no one was injured.
Chunks of the Easton Servicecenter building were missing as thick clouds of smoke drifted out of the damaged building.
Police officers from the Easton Police Department and Talbot County Sheriff’s Office were also on scene.
Crowds watched the firefighters battle the blaze from a safe distance on either side of the building.
Jamie Willis, a mechanic at the Easton Servicecenter, said the fire started around 11 a.m. at the north end of the shop in a garage bay.
“I was getting ready to bring another car in,” he said. “I heard fire, and I grabbed two fire extinguishers. Then I tried to call 911, but it was so hot and smoky I had to get out.”
Willis said everyone had evacuated within five or 10 minutes, and the fire department had arrived shortly after.
The mechanic said a brand-new vehicle owned by the Easton Servicecenter was completely destroyed, as well as other customer vehicles inside.
C.R. Chance, the fire chief for Easton Volunteer Fire Department, said the State Fire Marshal’s Office is still investigating the cause of the inferno.
He said the building suffered tremendous damage, especially from the smoke.
“The inside was a total loss,” said Chance, though he mentioned the exterior of the building was okay.
Chance said he wanted to “thank everybody that helped with the fire today.”
Willis, a longtime employee of Easton Servicecenter, which opened in 1977, was shocked by the event. He’s never experienced a fire at the shop before.
“I’ve been here 15 years,” he said. “This is the first time.”