- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 26, 2005

ANNAPOLIS — Residents, employees in the city’s historic district and curious onlookers stood alongside each other yesterday to stare in disbelief at the ruins from a massive fire Friday that caused more than $1 million in damage.

“It’s usually just tourists who are here, and in the wintertime it slows,” said Sally Pazymino, an employee at Main Street Souvenir & Apparel. “But today a lot of people from Annapolis are coming to see the fire, and they come in here and get some stuff for Christmas.”

The fire started Friday just before 8 p.m. at the Candy Factory on Main Street, said Annapolis Fire Department Capt. Joseph F. Martin. It quickly spread to Zachary’s jewelry store and Main Street Chicken and Ice Cream, causing extensive damage to all three, including collapsed roofs.

Officials think the fire started near an electrical box outside the candy store but are still investigating.

The fire was contained at about 10 p.m., but firefighters battled to extinguish it for several more hours.

About 75 firefighters responded to the scene, including two who had minor injuries, Capt. Martin said.

The fire was particularly rough for Zachary’s owner Steve Samaras, whose father died last week. But the building can be replaced, he said.

“We built this store from the ground up,” he said. “We intend to do it again.”

Harvey Blonder, the owner of the buildings, said the total damage will be closer to several million dollars when the contents of the stores are included.

Mr. Blonder said he plans to rebuild.

The two businesses adjacent to the three damaged buildings — the A.L. Goodies mini-mall and a Helly Hansen clothing boutique — were open yesterday.

The 100 block of Main Street, which was evacuated Friday night, remained closed to motorists yesterday so authorities could complete the investigation, which will include officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Sally Pazymino, 17, of Annapolis, said she was about 20 minutes late for her shift yesterday because of the closures.

“I usually come up Main Street and go around to St. Mary’s, but today I had to go back around Church Circle,” she said.

Sherry Baldwin, of Rockville, snapped photos of the charred remains while acting as a tour guide for her mother, Ethel, who is visiting from St. Louis.

“I was just curious. My brother saw it on CNN and called me from St. Louis to tell us about it because he knew we were coming down here this morning,” Miss Baldwin said. “So I took a picture to let him know we did see it.”

In 1997, a five-alarm fire — also during the holiday shopping season — caused $1 million in damage in the historic district.

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