Fire destroys maple camp east of Meyersdale

February 13, 2019 GMT

Black Bear Maple Camp, along White Oak Hollow Road in Larimer Township, was deemed a total loss after a fire destroyed the camp Tuesday afternoon.

Roger and Cindy Newman, of Swanton, Maryland, own and operate the camp. They built the camp in 2017 in cooperation with the Marlin Sherbine family of Somerset. The camp was scheduled to be part of the Somerset County Maple Tour for the first time on March 9 and 10.

According to Mike Miller, chief of the Meyersdale Volunteer Fire Department, the structure was fully engulfed when the department arrived and was a total loss. The fire was accidental. Miller said the fire was not maple related but came from another heating source in the building. The camp and contents were insured, he said.

No injuries were reported.

Fire department crews from Wellersburg, Meyersdale, Berlin, Garrett, Salisbury and Eastern Garrett County, Maryland, were on scene with about 50 men, Miller said. The departments were dispatched shortly before 2:30 p.m.

When the crews arrived, a sleet storm had just started.

By the time the crews started to leave around 4:30 p.m., the rains were heavier and at least one fire truck got stuck on White Oak Hollow Road because of ice.

The camp was Roger Newman’s dream ever since he was involved with the maple industry when he was younger.

Newman, a retired excavation business owner and milking equipment dealer, tapped trees on the Mostoller farm and other farms as well as Coleman Station outside of Friedens. When he was only 16 years old, he had more than 6,000 taps and sold his water to Bud Walters, who owned Mountain Meadow Sugar Camp in New Baltimore.

As the years passed and various jobs took up his time, the maple business fell by the wayside for Newman — until spring 2017, when the Newmans and Sherbines teamed up for the maple camp. The Newmans tap trees on the Sherbines’ Highland Farms along Route 601 in Somerset Township but also tap trees at the Sherbines’ hunting camp along White Oak Hollow, where the camp was located. They also rent trees at a few other locations.

They built their 20- by 30-foot camp with repurposed lumber, bought a 3-foot by 10-foot CDL-Dallaire evaporator and CDL reverse-osmosis machine, and added other technology recently.

When the firefighters started to pack up and leave, Roger Newman related that he wants to rebuild and will still sell his maple water to other distributors for this season.