A three-alarm fire at 12:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 12,  completely leveled two restaurants on Solomon’s Island and an adjacent waterfront condominium. Also, at least three boats were destroyed during the blaze that raged for more than two hours.

The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s office told several media outlets Wednesday night the initial loss estimate of the blaze was $5 million.

It apparently started on a deck outside Bowen’s Inn and spread to the Lighthouse Inn. Both restaurants were a total loss. There reportedly has been no evidence that the fire was intentionally set.

Shortly after the fire was reported, a second alarm was called, bringing nearly all of St. Mary’s volunteer fire companies scrambling over the Thomas Johnson Bridge. Then a third call went out and units responded from Charles and Anne Arundel Counties as well. In all as many as 100 firefighters and rescue squad personnel responded to the scene.

Two barges responded from the Chesapeake Bay and sprayed water on the blaze from the water side, and U.S. Coast Guard helicopters reportedly dropped water from above.

Wind gusts up to 45 mph made the raging flames extremely difficult to knock down. Smaller brush fires popped up all over the small island, as far as a half mile away. Two boats apparently burned on docks behind the burning building and another boat in storage down the street behind the Tiki Bar burned as well. Residents scrambled with buckets of water to put out the spreading the brush fires.

There has been no official report yet on how the fire started. Witnesses on the scene told The Bay Net a gas leak at Bowen’s Inn was responsible. Others on the scene reported hearing explosions.

There were no reported injuries. The Southern Maryland chapter of the American Red Cross were on the scene assisting displaced families from the lost apartments.

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Check back with The Bay Net as details become available.

 Residents help control fires spreading across the island  – Brian Olsen (right)