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Candle blamed for fire

October 21, 1998

Elm St. fireKIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




A lighted candle caused a fire that injured a child and severely damaged half of a two-story Elm Street double home Tuesday afternoon, fire officials said.

Hagerstown Fire Marshal Thomas Brown said the 126 Elm St., home is owned by Wendy Eyler.

Brown said Eyler's two school-age daughters were home alone at the time of the fire. He said the older of the two was lighting candles in the living room when a dried flower arrangement caught on fire.

Both children and the two family dogs got out of the home.

The 10-year-old girl, the older of the two children, was taken to Washington County Hospital, where she was held for observation, Brown said.

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A hospital spokeswoman said the girl remained in the hospital's emergency room Tuesday evening, and that a condition was not available.

Holding her sobbing younger daughter in her arms, Eyler said she was at the dentist when the fire broke out.

"It was an accident," Eyler said.

The two smoke alarms in the home were not working because the batteries had been removed, Brown said.

Brown said damage to the residence were extensive.

"The house has substantial fire and smoke damage," he said. The downstairs living room and kitchen sustained the most damage.

Hagerstown firefighters were called to the home at 4:45 p.m. and had the blaze out in about five minutes.

The other part of the double house, at 124 Elm St., which shares a wall with Eyler's home, sustained light smoke damage, Brown said.

The Eyler's cocker spaniel was taken from the house by firefighters. Covered in soot, a second dog, named Baxter, was revived by firefighters using an oxygen mask.

Neighbor Brenda Jones, of 130 1/2 Elm St., called in the blaze after Eyler's younger daughter rushed into her kitchen screaming that there was a fire.

Jones said she rushed to the burning house and rescued the older daughter and the Chihuahua, Baxter.

Believing that her father might be in the house, the older girl ran back into the house and up to the bedroom.

"She said 'my daddy's home. I have to get my daddy,'" said Jones.

With the house filling up with smoke, Jones said she fought her way upstairs and retrieved the child.

The girl's father, however, was not home at the time of the fire, Brown said.

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