LIPIN BUILDING FIRE, 5-11-48, GLEN BURNIE - TWO ALARMS
ON TUESDAY, MAY 11, 1948, A FIRE DESTROYED A BUILDING AND DAMAGED OTHERS IN DOWNTOWN GLEN BURNIE, ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD. The two-story-structure built of ordinary-construction, known as the “Lipin” building, was shared by several businesses.
Constructed in 1926, the Lipin building was located on the west side of Crain Highway about a-half-a-block north of Baltimore/Annapolis Blvd. The first floor was divided by Gas/Oil Products, Lipin Hardware, and the Bur Mon Bar. The second floor was shared by offices of the “County Chronicle,” and the Glen Burnie Recreation Bowling Center.
Around noon, due to the hot weather, gas vented from the relief valves attached to the tanks located behind the Gas/Oil Products section of the building. Simultaneously, someone was burning trash near the tanks, which ignited the gas vapors and started the fire.
As flames were advancing into the interior of Gas/Oil Products from an opened back door, employees who tried to extinguish the flames with fire extinguishers were burned and abandoned their efforts.
The fire department was called and when the first engine arrived from Company #33 (Glen Burnie), the entire first floor was “enveloped” in flames and the second floor was “blazing.” At the height of the fire, which burned for hours, flames rose 100 feet into the air as over 2000 spectators looked on.
The fire caused $300,000 damage to the Lipin building and adjacent structures. In addition to Company #33, Companies #34 (Ferndale), #18 (Marley Park), #32 (Linthicum), #31 (Brooklyn), #11 (Orchard Beach) and #12 (Earleigh Hgts.) responded to the blaze. Eleven firefighters and two civilians were injured battling the fire.
Among the firefighters who were injured were Cecil Hunter, Ralf Bryant, Harold Moors (later became chief of the Fort Meade FD), Alva Mewshaw, John Bryant (became volunteer chief of Co.#33), Phillip Clark, Joseph Neill (chief of Co.#31 at the time of the Arundel Park fire) and Charles Lacher (Co.#31).
The Baltimore Sun stated that this was the second major fire in Glen Burnie during the past four months. In February, a fire burned out the WB&A Restaurant, located on Crain Highway on the south side of Baltimore/Annapolis Blvd. and spread to the adjacent movie theater and grocery store causing $45,000 in damages.
The Lipin fire burned through a telephone line in the back of the building knocking out phone service to many telephone customers in the area for a time. After the fire was extinguished, and as the firefighters were picking up their hose lines and equipment; it was said that customers lined the bar in the Bur Mon for drinks, despite six inches of standing water on the floor.
This may be the Gas/Oil Products business that moved from downtown Glen Burnie to the northbound lane of Ritchie Highway between the old Glen Burnie Mall and Dover Road and operated from that site for several years. Later the company’s president was Robert Pascal. Pascal a resident of Severna Park was a State Senator in the early ‘70s and Anne Arundel County Executive from 1975 to 1983.
Gas/Oil products eventually moved to Millersville and became United Propane. The Lipin building, along with other structures between Maryland Avenue and Baltimore/Annapolis Blvd. was demolished in the early 1980s to make room for the Senior Citizens mid-rise that occupies the site today.
Photos – 1) Scene in front of the building from the Maryland Gazette with Co.18's" White" pumper. 2) Firefighters working on the roof and the remains of the bowling alley on the second floor are from the Sun. Bur Mon Bar photo from a fire in 1972. Photo by Joe Gruver photographer.