December 20, 2015
The Annapolis Yacht Club, a sprawling, historic structure that rivals the Maryland capitol building as the focal point of the city and has long been the emotional center of town for generations of sailors, burned Saturday in a three-alarm fire that sent smoke visible for miles.
The stubborn fire in the main clubhouse was brought under control just before 5 p.m.
A total of 90 firefighters fought the blaze with 34 pieces of fire equipment on scene at 2 Compromise Street. Firefighters remained to pick through embers, working overnight to put out hot spots and overhaul the area.
One firefighter suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital, according to the Annapolis Fire Department. No further injuries have been reported.
The historic club that played host to several national and international racing events was created in 1886 as an informal canoe club, according to the AYC website. The club had humble beginnings, with records indicating membership in 1904 close to 30 members compared to its membership today, which stands at 1,600. The clubhouse was previously damaged in 1933 by a hurricane.
The first call for the fire came in around 2:16 p.m. from an alarm-monitoring company. Fire officials then received multiple calls about ”heavy smoke coming from the windows of the building.”
Roads in the downtown area remained closed due to the fire for several hours causing backups and traffic congestion, finally opening around 8:30 p.m. Traffic began moving again on the Eastport Bridge shortly after 10 p.m.
Sources tell WBAL-TV’s Jim Russ, the Christmas Tree inside the club caught on fire. The fire department has said it is too early to determine a cause of the fire or how much damage has been caused. The 2015 Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade scheduled to take place Saturday evening on the Annapolis Harbor was cancelled due to the fire. It is unclear whether the parade will be rescheduled.
An online fundraiser has been set up to assist the employees of the club affected by the fire.
“We thank the Annapolis Police and area Fire departments for their quick action and our senior management for quickly evacuating the facility,” Commodore Rod Jabin, a member of the AYC Board of Directors said in a statement. “We are saddened by the events of today but thankful that no one was seriously injured. The yacht club was closed to its members while preparing for the Lights Parade and all of the staff got out safely. Club officers and management will be assessing the situation tomorrow to determine the extent of the damage and move the process forward to rebuilding.”
Investigators have begun their search for the cause of the fire. The club will remain closed until further notice.
Story courtesy of the Annapolis Patch