The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s office has estimated damage from a fire at the former Howard Hotel and an adjacent structure at $1.5 million.
At around 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Singerly Fire Company and nearby departments were called to 101 W. Main Street, at the intersection of North Street. The fire was quickly upgraded to two alarms and later three.
Nearly 100 firefighters from Cecil County and multiple other departments, including companies in Delaware and Pennsylvania, battled the stubborn blaze for nearly three hours.
The fire heavily damaged the vacant four-story hotel structure and a three-story commercial building that includes Angelucci Bail Bonds and three apartments.
Roads were closed off in the areas, and residents were advised that efforts to fight the blaze might result in lower water pressure.
The hotel building dates from the 1850s with its visitors including presidents. and other dignitaries, and served as a social center in the days before interstate highways.
More recently, it served as a restaurant and tavern, the most recent occupant being Minihane’s, an Irish-themed restaurant.
The investigation, conducted by a team of Deputy State Fire Marshals and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, concluded the fire originated on the exterior of 111 W. Main Street. The ATF is called when fires occur in commercial buildings.
An off-duty Delaware firefighter who saw smoke coming from behind the building assisted investigators. After observing the fire, he attempted to use fire extinguishers before it rapidly spread into the two buildings. He remained on the scene and assisted in describing what he had seen. That allowed Deputy State Fire Marshals to focus on a small area to determine the cause, which remains under investigation. No evidence points to arson.
Nine people living in the apartments were displaced and are being assisted by Red Cross. One firefighter sustained minor injuries and was transported to nearby ChristianaCare Union Hospital.