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Linzey Mansion Fire

Linzey Mansion Fire

Thursday, July 19, 2007 started like most any work day. But, as I prepared to leave home for the office, I heard a news report of a building fire in Prince Georges County. As an insurance agent, I am always concerned when I hear about fires, auto accidents and other events that may affect the safety and well-being of our policyholders, so I began walking toward the television. But the news got even more personal, as the fire was on Washington Boulevard in Laurel, and as the picture came into view, I realized that we were the policyholder experiencing a fire. Our office building, the 116 year-old historic Linzey mansion, was on the news, fully engulfed in flames.

The next few hours were very emotional as we watched the beautiful building we had called home for the better part of 15 years, destroyed. It was a very hot day, and the firefighters worked hard to extinguish the flames, but the building suffered extensive damage and the property inside was destroyed.

Upon arriving on the scene, we contacted our insurance carrier, Erie Insurance Group, and they responded immediately by sending a team of people to provide aid and support. By mid-afternoon on Thursday, it was clear that all of the contents in the building were destroyed. The building was still standing, but a burned out shell is all that remained.

We later learned the fire originated in the front garden area. Witnesses reported a group of people had been sitting on the front porch smoking early that morning. Apparently a discarded cigarette smoldered in the dry mulch and spread to the wooden porch steps. The situation declined rapidly from there, and the balloon frame building was destroyed in a short time. According to the fire department the building was engulfed in flames in seven minutes

As a sales & service organization, it was important for us to stay accessible to our clients, and we quickly shifted into assessing how to operate our agency without any of the tools we normally utilize. We needed a location, phones, computers and desks at a minimum-and fast! Erie had arranged to send us their Catastrophe Response Unit (CRU) to use as a temporary office. The modified motor home was equipped with the essentials: desks, chairs, computers, copier & fax. Our records are extremely important, and thankfully, we had a complete back-up of our electronic data off-site. Our information technology company, Innovative Technology Consulting (ITC), came to collect our back-up unit, and immediately that evening began building a temporary computer server with all of our programs, email and policyholder data. Since much of our client contact is by phone and e-mail, we also needed to have our telephone and Internet service restored, and this proved to be one of our greater challenges.

The organizational decisions we made prior to the fire, along with assistance from Erie Insurance, helped us to get back to business right away. Amazingly, the Erie CRU arrived overnight, and when we reported to our parking lot on Friday morning, less than 24 hours after the fire, the mobile office and crew was there, waiting to help us. By noon on Friday ITC had our new server connected to the workstations in the CRU, and we could serve our policyholders needs!

Once we could take care of our clients needs, we shifted our attention to finding a new location. The CRU was on loan to us for approximately two weeks, and we began scouring the Laurel area for immediately available office space. In between office shopping, we ordered new computers, telephone & voice mail systems, printers, fax and a copier. In addition, we rented new office furniture and purchased various office supplies. Two weeks after the fire we moved into a new (temporary) office of 2,000 sq ft, after painting a few key areas, and installing all of our office equipment.

There were plenty of stressful moments along the way, as "building" a new office in less than two weeks was a monumental task. But, we had the proper insurance in place, backed by a quality company, Erie Insurance. We also are blessed with a staff of caring professionals who really walked out our agency credo, providing almost seamless support to our clients. And finally the support of our family, friends and key vendors helped us to overcome this overwhelming event.

 

Linzey Mansion Fire
Linzey Mansion Fire
Linzey Mansion Fire
Linzey Mansion Fire
Linzey Mansion Fire
Linzey Mansion Fire
Linzey Mansion Fire
Linzey Mansion Fire
Linzey Mansion Fire
Linzey Mansion Fire
Linzey Mansion Fire
Linzey Mansion Fire

 

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