A massive fire Tuesday afternoon quickly obliterated a single-family home and detached garage in Frederick County.
The fire at 141 Gemstone Drive, located off Front Royal Pike (U.S. 522) near Horton’s Nursery south of Winchester, started shortly after 3 p.m. and laid waste to the structures in less than 45 minutes.
The property is owned by Richard E. Ritter Sr., who was out of town Tuesday afternoon and learned about the fire from a neighbor.
A thick column of black smoke rising from the flames could be seen from miles away.
Fire officials and family members said no people or pets were in the house, but two cows on Ritter’s 6-acre farm were missing.