Fire destroys home

December 09, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office investigators were trying Friday to determine what caused a fire that destroyed Washington County developer Steve Sagi's $1 million home south of the Funkstown town limits.

The fire at Sagi's brick house at 10028 Old National Pike (U.S. Alt. 40) was reported about 2 a.m., county Emergency Services Director Joe Kroboth said. The house was owned by Sagi's wife, Iris.

The cause of the fire was unknown Friday night, said Allen Gosnell, deputy chief state fire marshal. Damage was estimated at $1 million for the structure and $500,000 for the contents, he said.


The fire is believed to have started in the basement, Gosnell said. The house had two stories and the basement.

The family of five was home at the time of the fire, said Kevin Kotanko, assistant chief of the Funkstown Fire Department. A daughter jumped out of a second-floor window and was not hurt. Steve Sagi and two sons were taken by ladder from a second-story window, he said.

Iris Sagi was at the back porch when firefighters arrived, Kotanko said.

None of the family members was injured in the fire, he said.

Iris Sagi was the first family member to become aware of the fire, Gosnell said. She was awakened by the sound of the doorbell ringing repeatedly and had gotten up to go to the front door when she realized there was smoke inside the house, he said.

At about the same time, the house smoke detectors began to go off, he said.

It has not been determined whether the alarm malfunction indicated the fire was caused by wiring or if the problem was the result of the fire, Gosnell said.

The 7,036-square-foot building was built in 2000 on a 20-acre lot. The property was assessed at $732,150 as of July 1, 2001, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

Steve Sagi was at the scene at 10 a.m. but declined to be interviewed.

More than 100 firefighters went to the scene of the fire.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross offered assistance to the family, but would release no other information.

Pat Warner, a firefighter with the First Hose Co. of Boonsboro Inc., was taken to Washington County Hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation and exhaustion and released.

"I'm home and I'm doing fine," he said Friday afternoon.

A neighbor said the family has lived in the home for about two years.

Sagi's house had a floor plan and structure almost identical to that of a house owned by developer Paul Crampton Jr. that was destroyed in a fire last January, Kroboth said.

State fire marshals said the fire that destroyed Crampton's $1 million house, also in Funkstown, was caused by faulty wiring.

Neither knew the other was building the same structure, Crampton said Friday.

"I feel very sad for them because I know what they are going through," said Crampton, assistant mayor of Funkstown.

Friday's fire caused the temporary closure of a portion of Alternate 40.

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