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UPDATE: Massive Berkeley Brush Fire Nearly…

Fire Destroys House on Beach Road

The fire department responded to the incident late Sunday afternoon.

A three-story home on the corner of Morningside Road and Beach Road was decimated by a Sunday afternoon fire that damaged a neighboring house and that hospitalized one firefighter due to heat related injuries, according to Deputy Chief Mark McCulley of the Ocean City Fire Department.

Capt. Gary Green was treated and released after overheating and showing signs of high blood pressure while fighting the blaze, according to acting Fire Chief Charles Bowman.

When the firefighters first arrived at the residence at about 3:45 p.m., the fire was already tearing through the second floor of the home, but because two neighboring houses were exposed to damage and because of strong northeast winds, the firefighters focused on first protecting those properties, McCulley said.

"Upon arrival, it was going pretty good," Bowman said.

By 4:30 p.m., the fire was mostly under control, but damage could be seen throughout the entire structure of the house. Although some of the first floor is still intact, the house appears to be a total loss, according to McCulley.

No residents were home at the time of the fire. Residents of neighboring properties were evacuated.

Property tax records from 2011 list George A. Stohner and Brendan Burnett, of Indianapolis, IN, as the owners of the property, which is assessed at $2.6 million.

Firefighters from all three Ocean City fire stations responded, and stations in Marmora and Somers Point provided backup coverage.

Onlookers could be seen on Morningside Road, on the beach opposite of the house, and down side streets watching the blaze at the stately and classic beach-block home.

Cape May County, Ocean City Police Department and Ocean City Fire Department personnel are investigating the cause of the fire but are not expected to make a determination for a couple of days.

Jim Fitzpatrick May 21, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Oc local should leave their name . Not hid behind Oc local !!!
Oclocal May 21, 2012 at 08:25 PM
You suprise me yet again! I didnt misunderstand what i read, you misunderstood what you wrote. But again they wanted to replace retiring fire fighters with emts therefore reducing fire fighter levels. No matter how you word it it still equals less fire fighters!! As for your comment about their pay, yeah certain individuals would have you believe they are over paid and maybe you are one of them, however how were the numbers formulated?? Oh thats right they used figures on a w-2 and not the contracted salaries!! Whats the big deal right? They made that amount for the year right! WRONG AGAIN! What a information a w2 lacks is how many hours they worked to get that amount! Our guys work 56 hours in a week. They work longer than most departments in the state including philadelphia!!! By about ten hours per week!!! ADDITIONALY, philly fire fighters are not required to be emts!! So how can we compare our guys to others when their qualifications and hours worked are not the same!!
Oclocal May 21, 2012 at 08:29 PM
How can you make the comparison that the jobs are identical when what they do is not?  how can you say they are overpaid but forget the fact that our fd are working 0ver 20% more hours per week!!  Should we simply ignore that because all we care to see is the side you believe in Eric!! APPLES AND ORANGES! So maybe you eric, should  do your own research rather than counting on the likes of individuals trying to win their own political battles and check on the info yourself!  Not one other council member has stood up and looked into the marginal errors that were delivered at that time.  None of them!   When making group based decisions one of the best ways to get the fair outcome is to have the person who believes the most in the cause (lowering fire fighter staffing with emts) to work on the flip side of the equation( why we need to keep our current level of staffing).
Oclocal May 21, 2012 at 08:30 PM
 I learned this in about 8th grade at my great public school in OCEAN CITY.  This forces people to see the reality and not just what they want!  But with all the council members you heard silence and little to no rebuttle on every comment made that was in favor of this!  GREAT MONEY SAVING IDEA!  We may have and older city population.. But what keeps people in OC is the the services they get for their taxes!  Great city, clean area ,SAFETY, LOW TAXES!   Great schooling and many many others!  People compare our city as a pinnacle of what a city should be!  We are the best and our people and public servants deserve the best!  If they work more they deserve more!  If you saw that fire in person i gurantee the last thought in your head would have been "these guys make to much"!  Their pay is in line with their job. A job that may one day leave their family without them FOREVER!   Remember one thing. Everyday a fire fighter goes to work he writes a blank check to the people they serve and protect payable in the amount up to and including his own life!!!!  THINK ABOUT IT PEOPLE!
Dr. Raab May 21, 2012 at 08:36 PM
The better question here, which no one has addressed, is why are there so many pictures of this? This is devastating for the home owners and the patch is exploiting it by posting 29 photos. If I were the home owner's I'd be pretty pissed and would hope there's legal action that can take place- hopefully enabling them to purchase a new 2.6 mil home.
Al Czervik May 21, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Great job by our public safety personnel. Could have been much worse.
Al Czervik May 21, 2012 at 08:56 PM
??? Perhaps they can purchase a new home with the insurance settlement. You see, people purchase insurance to guard against such catastrophic losses. Legal action?
Amanda Thomas May 21, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Congratulations OCFD!
Mary Connelly May 21, 2012 at 10:17 PM
@Dr. Rabb, this is a 2.6 million dollar VACATION home. I'm sure the owners will be just fine. Also, why does everything so quickly turn to litigation? Aren't medical doctors being run out of this state due to high malpractice insurance and litigation? The patch is posting pictures, just like newspapers have done for many years. How many people have already driven by to get a look at what has happened?
Eric Sauder May 21, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Hartzell and Ping analyzed staffing requirements. I did not put the work into they put into it, and my postion was, and still is, that its good to to lay it out on the table and and discuss it and see if there is a more economical model that would work. I encouraged the fire department to do the same, but it quickly degenerated into a turf war. As for why no one else on Council supported it, you would have to ask those individuals, but from past experience I'm sure they knew what they'd be getting in for. At least Hartzell and Ping had the courage to address it. No I'm not one of those making 6 figures. I pay almost as much in taxes as I receive in income from summer rentals, and to tell you the truth, paying those taxes (salaries) is a hardship for me. And I don't mean to signal out the fire company. It seems to me that most people working for the city (fulltime) are making 6 figures. Are you guys still boycotting Boyars?
Duffer May 21, 2012 at 11:27 PM
I seriously doubt that is the real Dr Rabb.
Eric Sauder May 21, 2012 at 11:28 PM
How much are we paying our soldiers who don't get to go home at night, work around the clock, and live each day of their life not knowing if it will be their last?
Matthew May 21, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Ha Eric Sauder my man! I am a firefighter ( not in Ocean City) volunteer and paid. I hate the terms firefighter or fire department. I would like it to be renamed The Emegency Services Department. You come off as an intelligent guy except when you start talking about public safety. Let me get back to my "Emergency Services department" soap box. Who shows up when your house is on fire? Who responds to the beach for water rescues when lifeguards are off duty? Who comes with the jaws of life when your trapped in your car? When your water heater shorts out and your house flooded who shows up to pump out the water? When there is a medical emergency who gets called? When members of fairness in taxes cant remember their bike lock combination who cuts off for them? Fire department and firefighter limits the skills that these guys possess. High angle rescue infrastructure and building collapses? do guys with just an EMT certification show up? The answer is no you have highly trained personnel in everyone of these aspects.
Matthew May 21, 2012 at 11:32 PM
The Ocean City Fire Department didn't come to your house with brass knuckles and billy clubs and demand your tax dollars. Men and women you voted in to political office negotiated with said department and felt that at the time that this what they deserve. You want to talk about a waste of tax dollars lets look at the high school how many residents of Ocean City attend the high opposed to non residents. Also what about the developers and builders who built tri plex after tri plex which sell for a million a floor and made property taxes sky rocket. The same people who drove year round families out by the hundreds because Packing 800,000 people in Ocean City 3 months a year because it lined their pockets. These are blue collar locals who get slammed day after day for doing their job and the come to work regardless and keep doing it. What I saw yesterday was friends and neighbors in fire turnout gear doing everything they could to save an entire block putting themselves in serious danger to help the members of their community. Shame on you for discrediting their efforts. If you need the $35 dollars a year you save by cutting jobs in our community then let me know I'll write you a check.
Eric Sauder May 21, 2012 at 11:33 PM
My solution was a rather simple one. Give the FD an objective to meet and let them figure it out. Bully tactics won't work on everyone.
Eric Sauder May 21, 2012 at 11:42 PM
I agree with you Matthew that its not an isolated problem. And I am grateful to our fire department. That is not to say that we can't do things more economically here. I'm a blue collar local too (since moving here) and I make a tenth of what my neighbors on the fire department make. You have to honor the contracts in place but its time to think about the future and whether or not we can sustain it.
Jack Straw May 21, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Does anyone remember a similar fire on the same weekend in 1989-1990? The house was the one on the corner of Garden's Road and Beach Road. Actually I think there were 2 houses that were ablaze. Odd.
Eric Sauder May 21, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Hartzell and Ping were trying to be fiscally responsible. Whether or not it was politically motivated I can't say. I disagree with those two more than I agree with them but I'm not playing favorites or trying to demonize anyone. I can support an initiative to lower or at least hold level the tax burden.
oclocal1 May 22, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Enough of the political crap and everything else! Everyone should be thanking the fire department for arriving on the scene recognizing the home was A loss and quickly set up and saved so many other homes! This could of ended up being A whole block going down with the winds and so on! What A great professional job in an emergency situation! Lets give kudos to these men what an excellent job! Leave the politics out of it and focus on knowing we are safe with these men in our great town!!! Thank you to all who responded and saved A disaster!
Eric Sauder May 22, 2012 at 12:19 AM
OCLocal May 22, 2012 at 12:23 AM
They proposed many many fewer firefighters. Watch the tapes of the meetings. They have both said people don''t care about response time for fires just medical calls. Yesterday people in this neighborhood cared. They also have both said OC only has about four fires a year when they know that is not true.
Jan bye May 22, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Insurance would never replace the love and character if someone's home! Does anyone know how old the house was. I know it was rehabbed.
steve purdy May 22, 2012 at 01:53 AM
OCFD great Job! As always! Eric, buy a clue pal. You get paid less than emergency service personell because you pump gas. Emergency service personell are highly trained and skilled, and perform dangerous life saving work. The Hartzell (with Ping in tow as usual) proposal was a farce. It was replacing firefighters with emt's, and had no practical merit. It was grandstanding for a mayoral run in 2014. Eric, unfortunately you attend council meetings and get just enough information to sound informed. That is different than knowledgable. It has the worth of all of your conspiracy theories (remember the crazy "organization" letter?). Please get a hobby other than posting uninformed nonsense on patch.
Ocean City CK May 22, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Don't be so self absorbed thinking about "your" beach. Think about the poor family that lost their house. I wish people were not so ignorant
Eric Sauder May 22, 2012 at 04:48 AM
Purdy I responded to your comment but deleted it since I found I was only repeating myself. I worked as a professional for many years and I understand the difference between pumping gas and working in a highly skilled job (thanks anyway). The point is we don't all make 6 figures and some of us are on fixed incomes, and its a struggle to pay those salaries (and associated pension and benefit costs). I did attend those meetings and if using EMT's as firefighters was proposed I missed it. That's not what I heard. As to whether it was grandstanding or there was an ulterior motive, that's immaterial to me. I took the proposal at face value. You say it didn't have much merit and maybe you're right, but I do think it was good to open a dialogue. The fact remains that we pay our civil service employees 40% more than surrounding communities and those communities seem to be getting by. We need to do what we can to control costs. Revenue is largely capped and we're about to incurr expense from major capital expenditures coming down the pike. As for the organization letter, of all the letters I submitted it received the most favorable response, so I guess its not just me? You might think it was "crazy" but a lot of other people related to it. As for "uninformed nonsense" I can accept that as your opinion, much as you ascribed your interpretation to Hartzell's motives. I could probably use a hobby but staying abreast of what's happening here takes up most of my time :)
Dr. Raab May 22, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Duffer- do I know you? Why does everyone attack one another on this site? Just read the story and move on- no one cares about your opinions. If you want to thank the fire department, then go to a station and thank them. Don't do it on the patch.
Duffer May 22, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I do know the real Dr Raab and two of his brothers. Known them for many years. Don't know who the person calling himself Dr Raab on Patch really is though.
Nancy May 23, 2012 at 12:11 PM
The fire department did an amazing job.
Trixie May 25, 2012 at 03:08 AM
The point was obviously missed by this poster. It's not lack of empathy for the home-owners. It's the fact that people are so busy gawking and making a spectacle of someone's tragedy that they trample the dunes that are there to protect erosion of our neighborhood beach and all the other OC beaches. Maybe the poster was one of the people standing on the dunes to get a better view of someone's else's misfortune.
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