BERLIN – A Tuesday evening fire at a plant nursery along Route 589 across from Ocean Downs pumped billowing black smoke into the sky that could be seen from miles around and snarled rush hour traffic along the busy corridor for hours as five area fire companies battled the blaze.
The fire started around 5 p.m. on Tuesday at the Planted Pleasures nursery on Route 589 and the smoke could be seen from Berlin to Ocean Pines to Ocean City. The fire was first reported at 5:14 p.m. and firefighters from Berlin, Ocean Pines, Ocean City and Showell responded to the scene, which was eerily similar to the fire that ravaged a horse barn at the nearby Ocean Down racetrack last year.
Investigators said this week the fire originated in a storage building and completely destroyed the structure and its contents. The 32-foot-by-300-foot building was a converted chicken house. With no public water source and no hydrants in the area, firefighters pumped water to the blaze from nearby Turville Creek through a 1,400-foot hose.
The blaze was ultimately brought under control, but firefighters remained on the scene for about four hours to ensure it did not spread to the dry, wooded areas and fields nearby. Wildfires sprouted up at several locations around Delmarva this week and the fire at Planted Pleasures was quickly contained to ensure Berlin was not added to the list.
Maryland State Police rerouted traffic from Route 589 to Route 90 and other alternative routes for hours and a blitz email warned motorists to avoid the area. Two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion at nearby AGH and were released. Although the origin of the fire has been identified, the cause of the blaze remains under investigation this week.