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Several cars destroyed after catching fire at Annapolis dealership

Posted at 9:21 AM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-03 17:20:32-05

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WMAR) — An early morning fire destroyed 13 cars at an Annapolis dealership.

The fire also left hundreds with no electricity. Officials aren’t sure what caused this fire yet but when firefighters arrived at the scene, they found downed power lines and several cars in flames.

Neighbors awoke to the sights and sounds of crews fighting huge flames throughout the car lot.

"We saw the smoke bubbling up high. The cars sitting on fire, the wires came and hit the cars," said Annapolis resident J.W. Jones. "Of course you know, combustion takes place, and the heat, so intense. Somehow I got on the phone, 'I said honey do me a favor, let's call 911.'"

The Annapolis Fire Department got the call about 6:30 Monday morning for the report of a vehicle fire but once they arrived crews found more than one car on fire.

Annapolis Fire Department Battalion Chief John Ortlieb said "We had four cars that were heavily involved with fire. We also had electrical wires down, draped on some of those cars," said Annapolis Fire Department Battalion Chief John Ortlieb. "Crews quickly realized the lines were still energized, and were able to pull back."

13 burned out vehicles are no longer for sale at the Annapolis Car Center dealership on West Street in Annapolis. No one was injured but it was a particularly dangerous situation for firefighters.

"Water and electricity don't really mix, and some bad things can happen but the command on scene as well as our firefighters quickly recognized the hazard and we were able to pull back into a defensive operation," Ortlieb said.

Once power was shut down, crews were able to go back and fight the fire.

Hundreds in the area started their Monday morning without electricity, prompting a nearby charter school, The Monarch Academy, to close its doors for the day.

A BGE spokesperson said crews worked to restore power to customers throughout the morning.

Meanwhile, the sound of car alarms and thick smoke filled the air as firefighters took axes and power saws to the damaged vehicles to check for fuel leaks.

"We're trying to make sure that all the fire is out and that there are no more hotspots so we don't have any flare ups coming later in the day," Ortlieb said.

Whether downed power lines caused the fire isn’t confirmed as it’s still under investigation.


Smoke could be seen for miles while car alarms could be heard for blocks, after about a dozen vehicles caught fire at the Annapolis Car Center Monday morning.

Anne Arundel County and Annapolis Fire crews had to deal with a transformer explosion and downed power lines in the 200 block of West Street, causing power outages which made it harder to contain the flames.

BGE says a power line became displaced, and they have since restored power to 1,600 customers that were affected.

The incident caused the nearby Monarch Academy to close for the day.

Several roads in the area were shut down while crews worked to contain the fire.

There were no reported injuries. BGE is working to determine what caused the power line to become displaced. It plans to replace all of the equipment there out of an abundance of caution.