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A four-alarm fire that started this morning in the historic Boone Hotel in downtown Boonsboro has spread to other buildings in the town square and is still smoldering. The hotel, built in the 1700s, was being renovated by romance novelist Nora Roberts and her husband, Bruce Wilder, who owns the bookshop across the street. They’ve lived in Washington County for some 30 years, according to the Haegerstown Herald-Mail.
An archived story in that paper describes the couple’s plans to renovate the six-room hotel for use as an inn, with each room to reflect a different literary theme and couple—including one reserved for Roberts’ In Death series (written under the pseudonym J.D. Robb) which features Eve Dallas, sexy police lieutenant of the future, and “her Irish billionaire, Roarke.”
The hotel went up in flames shortly before 8 a.m. and spread to at least four buildings, including apartments and a Subway sandwich shop. Nearly 40 fire companies were called in; various news reports this a.m. say no one was hurt. WUSA9 is reporting that witnesses source the fire to a kerosene heater that tipped over and started an explosion.
Roberts and Wilder also bought the U.S. Hotel in the same town square and their son, Dan Aufdem-Brinke, had planned to open a reastaurant there. Interestingly, he had a different restaurant on South Main Street, next door to the Boone Hotel, that was destroyed by fire roughly a year ago, on Jan. 19.