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House damaged by fire when car explodes

August 11, 2002

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

A late afternoon blaze Saturday, started by a malfunctioning car engine, caused heavy damage to a garage and house on Hepplewhite Drive in Hagerstown's North End.

There was no damage estimate, but the car - an old Nissan sedan - and much of the garage were destroyed.

John Latimore, chief of the Long Meadow Volunteer Fire Department, said two rooms in the two-story frame house closest to the attached garage were damaged by the fire. Smoke and water damage was reported in much of the rest of the house, Latimore said.

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Vinyl siding on the side and front of the house was melted off.

The house, at 13117 Hepplewhite Drive, is owned by Joan R. Barnhard.

According to Barnhard, she has been having trouble shutting off the engine whenever she stopped the car. "The timing must be off because it keeps on running," she said.

"I usually park it outside. I don't know why I drove it into the garage today," she said. "It wouldn't turn off and kept on shaking.

"I went inside to tell my son, but I couldn't find him. I got busy with something else and forgot about it. I was in the shower when my son came pounding on the door telling me to get out of the house, that the car was on fire and that it was going to blow up."

The vehicle did blow up, she said.

"That's why the fire went so fast," she said.

Latimore said flames were coming out of the garage when he arrived. He said the state fire marshal was en route to investigate the cause of the fire.

Barnhard said she has owned the house for five years.

Units from Maugansville, Leitersburg and Hagerstown responded.

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