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Families left homeless by fire

February 05, 2001

Families left homeless by fire



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

N. Locust St. fireTwo families are without a place to live after a grease fire that started in a second-floor kitchen damaged their apartment building at 321 North Locust St. in Hagerstown.

Two Hagerstown firefighters received medical treatment, one for exhaustion and another for a cut eye, said Battalion Chief Ron Horn. The firefighter who received the laceration was taken to Washington County Hospital.

None of the building's occupants were injured.

Bobby Smith, who lived in the apartment where the fire started, said he saw flames in the kitchen and quickly got out.

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"That's why we ran," Smith said. Smith, his girlfriend, Suzanne Jones, and another male occupant lived in the apartment. Jones was not home at the time.

Horn said the tenants walked away from grease cooking on the stove, and by the time they returned, it was too late.

"There's major damage to the second floor, but it's repairable," Horn said. He estimated the damage to be at about $15,000.

A dog, named Brandi, and a kitten were rescued from the building.

Jones, who arrived at the scene shortly after the fire started, said the kitten was having a hard time keeping its eyes open.

"We thought one was dead, but we found it," Horn said of the kitten. "I don't like to see the little critters get left behind."

John and Gloria Walker, who lived in the first-floor apartment with their son, said they didn't smell any smoke but heard the fire burning.

"The only thing we heard was a crackling noise," Gloria Walker said.

"I was sitting in my apartment. I didn't smell nothing," John Walker said. "All I seen was flames coming out of the upstairs door."

The family was also able to get out of the apartment without injuries. They said the their apartment received smoke damage.

Gloria Walker, standing outside with a cordless phone still in her hand, called the fire department. Her husband, John, stood shoeless just a few feet from their apartment and watched as crews extinguished the fire.

Gloria Walker said her family plan to stay with relatives.

Smith, Jones, and the other occupant are homeless.

Horn said the American Red Cross will provide temporary shelter until the group can find a permanent place to live.

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