BROOKWOOD FARMS RESTAURANT FIRE, 10-1-59, PASADENA - TWO ALARMS
ON WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1,1959, fire companies responded to the Brookwood Farms Dairy Bar and Restaurant located on the southeast corner of Ritchie Highway and Mountain road, Pasadena, Anne Arundel County, MD (almost on the same spot where today’s Double “T” Diner is located – different building)
(From FB "I remember Harundale when there was a mall." Credit to the photographer)
It was said that flames from the fire, that started in the kitchen, spread rapidly through the one-story ordinary-constructed-built building (cinderblock and wood) rose 35’ in the air at the height of the fire.
(Photo - AACoFD)
Fifteen fire companies responded to the two-alarm fire that was discovered by a bakery employee a few minutes before 7 P.M. (The Sun stated two-alarms, the Company #32 (Linthicum) fire report for the fire reported three-alarms).
(Newspaper Clipping - Credit to the photographer)
The fire burned out of control for three hours. Chief Charles “Buck” C. Schrieber of Company 18 (Marley Park) was the chief-in-charge. The closest fire hydrant was located at the corner of Marley Station Road and Ritchie Highway about four blocks away, if not further.
(Ed Utz - Company 31 Engineman - Photo by Les Helfrich)
Years later, AACoFD Division Chief Ed Utz shared with me that he was an engineman on Company 31’s (Brooklyn) engine that night (didn’t say which one) and laid his entire hose bed from the hydrant to the fireground. Utz said he pumped eight to ten one-and-a-half-inch hand lines! Harry Zlotowski (AACoFD Division Chief - retired) remembers riding on the tailboard that evening and participating in the fire ground operations. At the time Harry was a BCFD career firefighter and a volunteer with Company 31.
Other engines shuttled water from a near-by stream. Charles Urban, a volunteer with Company 14 (Green Haven), remembers shuttling water to an engine/ tanker in front of the building.
(Harry Klasmeier was appointed Fire Prevention Bureau Chief in 1954. When charter government formed the AACoFD, Klasmeier was appointed Fire Administrator. A position he honorably and distinctively served from 1966 to 1983 - Photo - AACoFD)
Chief Harry Klasmeier of the AACo. Fire Prevention Bureau said he believed the fire started in a grease duct and spread upward between the combustible ceiling and roof. Estimated damage to the building was $275,000.
Company 33 (Glen Burnie) Firefighter Kenneth Anderson, 38, suffered a heart attack and was transported to South Baltimore Hospital. An employee Mrs. Beatrice Williams, 28, of Brooklyn Park was treated for shock and also transported to the hospital.
The following fire companies responded to the fire: Company 18 (Marley Park), 33 (Glen Burnie), 34 (Ferndale), 15 (Powhaten Beach), 16 (Lombardee Beach), 14 (Green Haven), 20 (Lake Shore), 47 (Friendship Airport), 19 (Cape Saint Clare), 13 (Riviera Beach), 12 (Earleigh Hgts), 17 (Arnold ), 32 (Linthicum), and 31 (Brooklyn).
(Engine 323 with Tom German, Circa 1965 - Photo - Tom German)
AACoFD Firefighter Melvin Morrison would later share with me that, as a 19-year-old volunteer firefighter, he responded on Linthicum’s 1947 “Open Cab Mack pumper, Engine 323, to the fire. He said he burned the heck out of his arm when he leaned on the engine’s generator’s exhaust manifold and needed to be treated by a doctor. The generator was permanently mounted on one of the running boards.
Company 32’s report of the 1959 fire revealed that in addition to Morrison, Donald Amrhein responded as the “engineman,” with C.J. Wright, Paul Hornberger, D. Betz (not Danny) and Chief Al Parlett. Responding on Engine 323 at 8:21 P.M., they laid 1,000 feet of 2 ½” supply line to support firefighting operations. They responded approximately one-and-a-half-hours after the initial alarm.
There were also firefighters that suffered smoke inhalation who were sent to a doctor’s office on Crain Highway in Glen Burnie for treatment.
I remember Brookwood Farms well. My grandparents would take me there for milkshakes that were so thick a straw wouldn't work and a spoon was needed to enjoy them. Michael Ripnik remembers his grandfather taking him and his brother Richard to Brookwood and treating the boys to ice cream and malted milks. Karon Bannon Miller remembers the delicious thick milkshakes.
After the fire, we would occasionally drive by the structure on our way to and from my Uncle Stan’s home in Pasadena at least one weekend a month and I would take note of the state of repairs. Workers didn’t waste time and the milk bar reopened in a few months.
Brookwood Farms was the third major fire that I was made aware of during my youth – the first being the Arundel Park fire (’56 - that I watched) and the second the A&P fire in Glen Burnie (’58).
Who would have known that back in 1959 sitting in a booth at the restaurant with my grandparents and my Uncle Jack, that twenty-years-later; I would be responding to a 2nd alarm fire in the same building as the officer-in-charge (OIC) of Company 32.
In the spring of 1979, the building was Spittles Half-Shell Restaurant and we responded in the 1956 Mack pumper, Engine 322 (now painted lime yellow) from the Linthicum station.
(In 1974, old Engine 322 became Engine 211 and in 1976, a county reserve engine - Credit to the photographer)
On board with me were firefighters Dave Reynolds, and on the tail board, Doug Shanks, Walt Isaac, Rick Gorzo and Mike Hester. We had more than a full crew on the engine since Truck 32 was O/S at the shop in Millersville. Another "A" shift working fire.
(Les Helfrich - Photo - Les Helfrich)
The late BCFD Shift Commander Les Helfrich responded to this fire with Company #31. Helfrich's daughter, Sharon Monroe shared a light hearted story about this incident. When Company 31 was requested to respond to the fire, Les needed to drive his wife Jean to the hospital. She was in labor.
After arriving at the hospital and finding out that delivery would still be a few hours away. Les left for the fire. His daughter Sharon was born shortly after midnight on the following day.
Donald L. Merkle (AACo.FD Lieutenant-retired) remembers standing in front of the restaurant and watching the fire as a fourteen-year-old. He remembers standing there 20 years later watching the Spittle’s fire. This time he was accompanied by the department’s first chaplain, Reverend Elmer Zick.
Gary Davis (AACo.FD Firefighter/Pump Operator-retired) remembers that after the fire was out, the restaurant was giving out free ice cream and milk since the power to the building was cut off.
Photos – Engine 323 (Little Mack) – Courtesy of Tom German
Ed Utz – Courtesy of Les Helfrich
News Clippings Photos – credit to the photographer
Large photo of fire ops in front of the building – Courtesy of
A.A.Co. Fire Prevention Bureau