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Fire guts home

March 19, 2001

Fire guts home



By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Funkstown home firePhoto: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Three people were displaced after a wood stove in their Washington County home apparently overheated and ignited nearby paneling Sunday afternoon, fire investigators said.

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The home, which is located behind Hagerstown Honda and Kia, just off Dual Highway and Interstate 70, was occupied by Clarence Hoffman, his wife Stephanie and their son Clarence Jr.

No one was home when the fire broke out in the kitchen area Sunday afternoon, but family members arrived moments later to find firefighters dousing their smoldering two-story residence.

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"I'd say it's pretty well gone," said Kevin Kotanko, captain of the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co. "The floors are bad on the second floor and attic, the one wall is gone and the chimney is free standing."

Firefighters were forced to smash windows, knock out walls and rip up sections of the roof in order to put out the flames. Smoke damage and charred debris could be seen through broken windows in the upstairs of the gray and blue house.

Heavy smoke was visible from Dual Highway.

Outside, the Hoffmans huddled together with other family members and cried, often stopping to pet their rottweiler - chained in the front yard - for comfort.

"They said they lived here about 18 years," Kotanko said.

The Hoffman's pets, two dogs and a canary, survived.

About an hour and a half after the fire began, family members and firefighters searched the house for anything that could be saved. They emerged with pictures in melted frames, dishes, a filing cabinet, a Jeff Gordon model race car, guns, a broken table and a toy box covered in soot.

The Washington County Chapter of the American Red Cross was called to assist the family, Kotanko said.

Halfway and Boonsboro volunteer fire companies, the Washington County Air Unit and the food wagon assisted.

Funkstown firefighters are collecting clothing for the family. Anyone wishing to make a donation can leave items at the fire hall at 2 S. Westside Ave., Funkstown.

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