Community Fire Company of Rising Sun crews were back on location at 10 South Queen Street, Rising Sun, shortly before 8:30 a.m. Thursday, December 5 assisting the State Fire Marshal's Office with a fire investigation.
Just over 12 hours earlier, on Wednesday evening shortly before 8 p.m., a two-alarm fire ripped through three businesses and two apartments. It took 70 firefighters from Cecil and Harford counties and Chester and Lancaster counties from Pa. about an hour to bring the fire under control.
Deputy State Fire Marshals reported that the fire originated inside Jon's Exotic Pets. An undetermined amount of pets died in the fire. Two families, including three children ages 15, 13, and 5 were displaced. Officials from Cecil County Public Schools on Wednesday night began working on plans to assist the families. Damage to the structure and contents is estimated at $750,000. The investigation is continuing.
John Bowser, an assistant chief for Community Fire Company of Rising Sun said that units from Rising Sun, Water Witch of Port Deposit, Perryville, Union of Oxford, Pa., Fulton of Lancaster County, Pa., Darlington, and North East worked at the scene.
County paramedics and volunteer EMS personnel from both Rising Sun and Water Witch also worked on location assessing the condition of firefighters.
Cecil County Animal Control units, police from several agencies, and the American Red Cross worked at the scene as did Delmarva Power Company and Town of Rising Sun crewmen.
John Belew owns the property. He said that a nutrition store was coming to the end unit on West Main Street and had planned to sign the lease to rent it on Thursday. Caterer Lisa Welch, who owns Your Personal Chef, the middle business, reported that her equipment was intact.
Although initial reports indicated that only one rabbit survived the fire, about 11 p.m., workers from the pet store, who have been running the shop for about nine weeks, brought a king snake, four turtles, two bearded dragons, two guinea pigs, a hamster, and feeder mice out of the building alive.
"The pet store looks pretty well shot," Belew said Wednesday night. "But we'll get stuff back as quick as we can. Numerous animals perished. But some of them are doing okay. The rest of this, we can get back. We didn't lose (human) life. We'll make it. And nobody got hurt. That's the big thing."
Roads in downtown Rising Sun remained closed until approximately 12:30 a.m. Thursday.
See the photo gallery below. Several pictures were featured in WJZ's coverage of the blaze.