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Firefighters battle blazes in city, Halfway

January 04, 2001

Firefighters battle blazes in city, Halfway



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI and TARA REILLY / Staff Writers

Above: Smoke billows from the rear of the house, which was gutted by fire.

Above: Firefighters battle a blaze at 114 Charles St. Thursday. Firefighters said the home was a total loss.

Above: Firefighters are stationed at the front of a home at 114 Charles St. in Hagerstown. The photo above shows smoke billowing from the rear of the house, which was gutted by the fire. There were no injuries.

Photos:

RICHARD T. MEAGHER

staff photographer



Three people were injured and up to 12 pets were trapped in one of two house fires in Washington County Thursday evening.

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Some of the residents of 11131 Nursery Road in Halfway arrived home around 5:30 p.m. to find their house on fire, said Alan Matheny, spokesman for Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway.

He said two women became distraught because the animals were still inside. Against the protests of firefighters the women ran into the home several times to rescue the cats and dogs, he said.

"They were lucky they weren't killed," Matheny said.

Firefighters tried to hold back the women but they broke free, according to Matheny, who said the heat and smoke prevented the women from finding the animals.

Matheny was unsure how many of the animals died. Firefighters found the bodies of some of the animals in the basement apartment and first floor of the ranch-style home.

The women and a 12-year-old girl were taken to Washington County Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. The youngster, who had inhaled smoke outside the home, was later flown to University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, he said.

Their names were unavailable.

The animals that survived were taken to the nearby Cumberland Valley Veterinary Clinic on Virginia Avenue.

When firefighters arrived, flames and smoke were shooting out of the windows. Fire damage inside the home was estimated at $115,000, Matheny said.

A Maryland State fire marshal was at the scene.

Two families lived in the house, the owners on the first floor and the tenants in the basement. Matheny said about five people lived in the home. It was unclear on which floor the women lived.

Around the same time Thursday evening, Hagerstown firefighters were working to control a fire at 114 Charles St.

Hagerstown City Police Officer Gerry Kendle said he was patroling the Wheaton Park area when he noticed smoke and flames coming from the home.

Kendle said he saw the resident, James Chandler, beside the building.

"He was going to put out the fire with a garden hose," he said.

Kendle advised Chandler to get away from the building and used his police radio to call for help.

Chandler said he was home alone sleeping on the floor when the fire broke out.

He said he woke up when he felt something hot on his leg. He fled upon seeing the smoke and flames, he said.

The fire destroyed the two story building in which Chandler said he had lived for more than 10 years.

He said he believed the fire was started by a space heater that either caught fire or exploded, but Hagerstown City Fire Marshal Tom Brown said there was no evidence that was the cause of the blaze.

Brown said the investigation would resume today because he was losing daylight and was unsure about the structural stability of the house.

Heat from the fire melted the building's yellow siding and soot covered the front of the home across from the Wheaton Park gazebo.

Heavy smoke made it difficult for firefighters to see and breathe, firefighters said.

Firefighters said the home was a total loss.

Chandler said he had recently begun remodeling the home, putting in a new kitchen floor, refrigerator and stove.

Chandler's German Shepherd paced and parked loudly at firefighters from his fenced kennel near the home.

It was unclear whether Chandler's cat Puss Puss made it out of the house.

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