75 Years Ago: Fire Destroys Barns on Rockville Farm

Seventy five years ago, from the pages of The Washington Evening Star newspaper for the first week of September 1944.

Members of the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department fought a fire on the farm of Mrs. Rose Veirs, a mile and a half west of Rockville, which destroyed three bars, a silo, livestock and grain. Barn and brush fires were very difficult to control and complete loss of the buildings or fields was usually inevitable. This was the case with Mrs. Rose Veirs who lost three barns, a silo, livestock and grain in a fire in 1944. The farm was associated for 70 years with the prominent Rockville family, the Veirs.

These previously unpublished photographs taken by Lewis Reed show scenes during the fire and extent of the damage.

1944 Rockville Fire

Fire destroys building on the farm of Mrs Rose Veirs. Photo by Lewis Reed.

From The Evening Star, September 07, 1944:

$25,000 Damage Done As Volunteer Firemen Fight Blaze for 5 Hours

Three barns and a silo were leveled, 2 horses and 7 calves were killed and 1,500 bushels of barley and 115 tons of hay were destroyed last night by fire on the 250-acre farm of Mrs Rose Veirs, a mile and a half west of Rockville, Md. Damage was estimated at $25,000 and was partially covered by insurance.

Four pumpers and a rescue wagon from the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department and two pumpers from the Kensington Volunteer Fire Department fought the blaze for five hours, although handicapped by a lack of water.

A small pond was drained, and the pumpers went back to Rockville several times for water. A pump on the property was put to work, but the fire had too far advanced to save the buildings.

L.M. Kennedy, foreman on the farm, discovered the fire about 8:10 p.m. J. Vinson Peter, son-in-law of Mrs, Veirs, manages the farm and gave the estimate of damage.

1944 Rockville Fire

Fire destroys building on the farm of Mrs Rose Veirs. Photo by Lewis Reed.

Organized with 51 men in 1921, the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department now has a diverse complement of over 270 volunteers supported by almost 100 Montgomery County career firefighters. The call volume has increased tremendously over the years, from the 1920’s where the Department responded to about 200 incidents a year to the present, where they responded to over 25,000 incidents in 2017.

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

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