Family of Four Loses Home in Fallston
The blaze was in the 2000 block of Watervale Road.
A Fallston family’s home was destroyed Thursday in a three-alarm fire that caused about $1.25 million in damage.
More than 100 career and volunteer firefighters from Harford, Baltimore and York (PA) counties responded to the blaze in the 2000 block of Watervale Road that destroyed the home of Raymond Santiago Jr., 34, his wife Clare, 33, and their 8-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son. The couple owns Unique Auto Body on Harford Road.
Clare said no one was home during the fire, and there were no injuries, but the family lost all of its possessions.
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“They lost a ’57 Chevy that was [Raymond’s] father’s car that he’d given him that he’d restored,” said family friend Merribeth Morisi, 37. “Pictures, you know, the typical things you lose in a fire that make it devastating, which is the sentimental stuff.”
The family’s BMW and Mercedes were lost in the fire, too, because the power was out and the electric garage opener was not working. The two-and-a-half story structure collapsed on itself during the blaze.
Although Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire said the cause of the incident is still under investigation, Clare fears that their stove could have been the culprit.
“The power was out all night so we used our wood-burning stove to keep heat but [the power] didn’t come on in the morning so when we left, the fire was still going,” Clare said. “I don’t know if that was the cause, I’m not sure. … It was smoldering, it wasn’t like a roaring fire but it was very, very low—on its way out.”
She added that the entire family left the house around 7 a.m. and returned twice.
“Around lunch time was the last time we came back to pick up one of the cars, drop off another car that we borrowed because we couldn’t get the cars out of the garage,” Clare said. “[We] were on our way running some errands at the bank and out to get lunch and then [my mom] called me.”
The Santiagos have moved in with Clare’s parents, who live next door “until we can figure things out,” she said.
The home, valued at $1 million without contents, was for sale, according to the fire officials.
“We were subdividing the property; we have 10 acres,” Clare said. “So we were in the process with the county to divide the lots, make two-building lots out of it so we could sell the house then build on the lot itself."
The initial 911 call was placed at 12:54 p.m., but flames were still visible outside the house at 5 p.m. Dave Williams, a spokesperson for the Harford County Fire and EMS Association, said the blaze was contained within two hours.
"Collapses began occurring shortly after arrival," Williams added.
At 4 p.m., firetrucks stretched for nearly one-quarter of a mile down Watervale Road. Clare said she appreciates the work from the firefighters, and added that her family does not have any immediate needs.
“We’ve got a lot of family and friends,” she said.
Individuals with information on the incident should contact State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire at 410-836-4846.