FIRE ISLAND! Locust Inn Torched by Arsonist; Brave Charter Captain Tows Flaming Boat Away from Fuel Dock

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The Locust Inn after the fire on Sunday, April 24, 2017. THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY photo

FIRE ISLAND! Locust Inn Torched by Arsonist; Brave Charter Captain Tows Flaming Boat Away from Fuel Dock

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SOLOMON’S ISLAND, MD. – One of the last remaining structures on Solomon’s Island dating back to 1910 and expanded during the World War II was torched on April 23, 2017. The old boarding house from the era of temporary housing for Navy and civilian workers assembling, testing and training the craft used to invade North Africa, Europe, and the Pacific – was set on fire but was not a total loss due to the efforts of firefighters.

 The blaze was the work of unknown arsonists, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal.

The arson fire at Locust Inn injured three firefighters with one suffering lacerations and two with leg injuries. Fire investigators say unknown persons began the fire by setting fires in multiple locations.

Stoney’s owner Jeannie Stone at the scene of the Lighthouse Inn fire in 2006 is now the owner of the Locust Inn.

 


The old structure was a boarding house for years and later became bed and breakfast.  Locust Inn was owned and operated by Pearl English from 1971 until the time of her death in 2009.  Ms. English was a member of the Solomon’s Island Business Association and operated the business with her companion, Robert Siemon.  Pearl English also worked as a waitress at the old Solomon’s Pier and at the now-gone Fisherman’s Inn.

Pearl English the former owner of Locust Inn located at Solomon’s Island died March 7, 2009

Locust Inn catered to a working-class clientele including employees of the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant, the gas plant, and Pax River NAS.

The Locust Inn advertised itself as a “Vacation Paradise” and also was patronized by those chartering fishing boats at Solomon’s Island. “Rooms for Tourists” ads for Locust Inn in The Solomon’s Islander also promised a “Complimentary Continental Breakfast.”

The late owner of the former Lighthouse Inn, Richard Fischer, inspects the damage.

The Locust Inn, located at 14478 S. Solomon’s Island Road, also is waterfront property that adjoins Solomon’s harbor and was sold by Robert L. Siemon on Nov. 1, 2016, for $850,000 to PAR Limited Partnership of Dowell, Md. The property is strategically located for future commercial development. The old Bowen’s Inn also was destroyed by fire. Fire investigators laid the blame for the fire to the careless discarding of smoking materials in that 2006 blaze.

The vacant bed and breakfast was owned by Louis Stone and Jeannie Stone, who are Calvert County restaurant owners.  

On April 17, 2017, Stone applied to the Calvert County Planning Commission to have the historic district designation removed from the Locust Inn property.

This notice was posted to the Calvert County government website:

Jeannie Cousineaux-Stone, the representative of PAR Limited Partnership, owner, has applied to have historic designation removed from the property known as the Locust Inn Historic District. The historic district is located at 14478 S Solomon’s Island Road in Solomon’s Island, Maryland and is shown on the Tax Assessor’s Map 46A as parcel 21 and is zoned as Historic District Overlay.

The property was designated a Calvert County Historic District by the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners by a County Resolution in 1988 under case number HD 88-01.”

Fire Marshals report that the damage to the structure was set at $50,000 and that more than eighty firefighters responded to the two-alarm fire which was reported at 11:15 pm by a passerby.

The Historic District Commission reviewed the application at their regular meeting on Wednesday, February 8, 2017. The HDC

voted 6-0 to deny the request to remove the designation and to forward that recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners and Planning Commission.

Fire Marshals report that the damage to the structure was set at $50,000 and that more than eighty firefighters responded to the two-alarm fire which was reported at 11:15 pm by a passerby.

The Bowen’s Inn was a total loss in this March 15, 2006, fire on Solomon’s Island. The hotel portion was saved but never reopened.

Jeannie Stone was interviewed in 2006 on the day of the fire at Bowen’s Inn, which also destroyed the old Lighthouse Inn. The Lighthouse Inn property was sold in recent years and new owners from St. Mary’s County built a new structure in the place of the burned out former restaurant. The Bowen’s Inn hotel which wasn’t destroyed in the fire in 2006 was recently demolished for parking for the very successful Lighthouse Inn.

Bowen’s Inn bar destroyed in March 2006, Photo James Antone for ST. MARY’S TODAY – see more in The Story of The Rag in Kindle, paperback and Audible

 

The old Fisherman’s Inn, now the site of another restaurant, The Striped Rock, located next to Locust Inn, was also destroyed in an arson fire in 1989.

Anyone with any information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Office of the State Fire Marshal, Southern Regional Office, at 543-550-6831.

BEWARE OF THE IDES OF MARCH – The fire that destroyed Bowen’s Inn and Lighthouse Inn took place on March 15, 2006.

 

Lee Tippett towing flaming inferno. Photo courtesy of Ashley Abell from Facebook.

Hero Captain towed flaming inferno away from gas docks

The arson fire at Locust Inn came three days after a spectacular fire at Town Center Marina. A boat caught fire during refueling at the gas dock injuring the boat owner and causing his father to jump into the water to escape the fire on the vessel.

Solomon’s Island harbor

According to the Public Information Officer for the Solomon’s Volunteer Rescue Squad and Fire Department Norman Rea, the fire began at 7:23 pm on April 20, 2017. 

Mickey Ramos stands next to a big fish in front of the new Lighthouse Inn at Solomon’s that replaced the structure lost in the fire in 2006.

“Upon arrival crews found a boat fully engulfed in flames that had been hooked by a private vessel and was being towed to a safe area. Crews from the Engine and Truck company pulled a line and secured the gas dock from any further extension. Boat 3 responded along with Boat 83 proceeded to extinguish the boat which had been pull away. There was only one injury where the patient suffered from several second-degree burns. Ambulance 38’s crew took care of the patient and transported him to the local burn center for further evaluation.”

Capt. Lee Tippett – the hero captain of Solomon’s Island. Photo from Lee Tippett’s Facebook page. This photo shows one of his recent charter trips.

The burning boat, a 1986 21’ Thunderbird with a value set at $10,000 loss, was pulled away in a daring act of bravery by Capt. Lee Tippett. Capt. Tippett’s actions were cited by Natural Resources Police Spokesperson Candy Thomson as critical to saving life and property.

Fire on boat in Solomon’s harbor

Michael Shawn Franz, the owner of the boat, was taken to MedStar with burns to his legs. Fire investigators assigned the cause of the fire as accidental during refueling.

 

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