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Seven treated after city fire

November 15, 2000

Seven treated after city fire



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer


Within minutes after a two-alarm fire in the first block of West Franklin Street was called in Wednesday morning, firefighters were on ladders at the windows of the three-story apartment building, plucking residents from window sills.

Seven residents were taken to Washington County Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, Hagerstown Fire Marshal Tom Brown said.

All were treated and had been released by 9:30 a.m., hospital officials said.

"It was a terrific job of fire suppression and rescue from three sides of that building," said Hagerstown Fire Chief Gary Hawbaker.

The cause of the 5:02 a.m. fire was under investigation as Brown and other investigators began talking with residents and surveying the damage to the brick and frame building. The apartments, which are listed as 25 1/2 W. Franklin St., occupy the second and third floors of the building.

"The fire started in an interior stairwell," said Brown, who added later this morning that the cause is suspicious.

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The building is across the alley from Pioneer Hook and Ladder Fire Co.

"Firefighter Andy Hartman said he knew it was bad when he had people banging on Pioneer's front door, banging on the back door and ringing the doorbell, all at the same time," said Hagerstown Fire Marshal John Hersh.

"I got out OK and my apartment wasn't too messed up," said Charles Clark, one of the residents displaced by the fire.

Clutching his pet puppy in his arms, Clark said he came back for the beagle, which appeared scared but unharmed.

Clark, his dog and some of the other residents were sheltered in Pioneer's quarters while American Red Cross personnel worked with them to make arrangements for shelter and replacement of lost clothing and personal items.

Building owners John Benisek and Richard Long arrived around 7 a.m. to survey the damage.

"There were eight apartments and all were occupied," Benisek said. He said he was insured.

On the first floor/storefront of the building, which is listed as 27 W. Franklin St., is Adventist Community Services, which has offices and storage facilities for clothing and other items for less-fortunate people in the community and other charities.

Efforts to reach Sandra Martin, the agency's director, were unsuccessful.

Responding to the blaze were First Hose, Antietam, Junior, Western Enterprise, Pioneer Hook and Ladder, Funkstown, three ambulances from Community Rescue Service, one ambulance from Halfway, and the Washington County Air Unit.

Hagerstown Fire Police directed traffic around the fire scene and then again at 8:30 a.m., when the fire briefly rekindled.

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