The original bank barn at Chapel View Farm on Jennings Chapel Road in Woodbine was completely destroyed in a two-alarm fire on Sunday, January 1. Owner Paul Shoffeitt (a carriage driver) said the 100′ × 50′ barn had been built in the late 1890s and had been renovated several times over the years. Trainer Ashley Beheler, who rents a newer barn on the property, discovered the fire and called 911. No horses or other animals were in the barn at the time and there were no injuries.
“Investigators are starting to look everything over today, but we are thinking one of the dusk-’til-dawn lights shorted,” Schoffeitt told The Equiery. Schoffeitt was on a bike ride with friends in the area when he heard the fire truck sirens. “By the time I got back, the first trucks were pulling down the driveway,” he said.
Although some of the major media outlets (such as local TV stations) reported that livestock needed to be rescued from the barn, Schoffeitt stated that there were no animals in the barn at the time. Beheler did say that because of the heat and the smoke, she moved all her horses stalled in the other barn into fields, where they have stayed the past two nights.
Destroyed in the fire were six carriages, all of the Schoffeitt’s tack, along with some boarders’ tack, a four-horse trailer and over 1,000 bales of hay. None of the contents was insured.
It took 60 firefighters from Howard, Frederick and Montgomery counties to put out the blaze. “The fire company did such a great job. If it weren’t for them, the other nearby buildings would have caught fire as well,” Schoffeitt said. Yesterday morning, Beheler saw smoke coming out of her sawdust pile and called for help again. Schoffeitt said there was a small fire smoldering in the sawdust, which was taken care of, and that firefighters used special heat-sensing equipment to search for any other problems in all the nearby buildings.
Schoffeitt is not one to sit idly by in sorrow, however, and has already started plans to move forward and rebuild. “You know, people often say that when disaster hits, there is the potential to build better things,” he said adding that the community outreach he has received has been amazing. Several Glenelg High School students, who hold a band fundraiser at the Schoffeitts farm each year, have stopped by and offered to help with clean-up and such.
“I really appreciate everything. All the phone calls, well wishes, offers to help rebuild. This is such a great community we live in,” Schoffeitt said.