Fire leaves family homeless

February 21, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

A fire in a second-floor Hagerstown apartment Thursday afternoon sent a woman to the hospital for smoke inhalation and left a family of four homeless.

Bonnie Lessner, 45, of 660 N. Prospect St., was treated and released in the emergency room at Washington County Hospital Thursday, hospital officials said.

Her two teenage daughters were unhurt in the 12:33 p.m. fire, which was ruled accidental, said Hagerstown Fire Marshal Doug DeHaven.


"The exact cause is still under investigation but we know it was accidental," DeHaven said. Firefighters from First Hose, Antietam, Western Enterprise and Pioneer Hook and Ladder responded, along with the Washington County Emergency Air Unit.

Shortly after Hagerstown firefighters reached the scene, Bonnie Lessner's husband, Dale, arrived home after being told of the fire while he was at his job as security guard for the Washington County Department of Social Services.

DeHaven said the building, which is owned by Ed Snook, has five apartments - two on the first floor, two on the second floor and one in the basement. The Lessners' apartment, No. 4, was the only residence damaged by smoke and heat.

The Lessners didn't have renters insurance, DeHaven said.

"There was a little water damage in the first-floor apartment under the Lessners but that apartment and the others were still habitable," said Hagerstown Fire Department Battalion Chief Richard Hopkins.

A family cat was rescued by firefighters, Hopkins said.

Kim Buchanan, a representative of the American Red Cross chapter in Washington County, responded to the scene Thursday afternoon and made arrangements to assist the family.

Within hours of the fire, Dale Lessner's co-workers had organized efforts to aid the family, both with money and clothing, since all was lost in the blaze.

Dave Engle, director of the agency, said monetary donations for the Lessner family can be sent to Washington County Department of Social Services, c/o Ray Campbell, 122 N. Potomac St., Box 1419, Hagerstown, MD 21741-1419.

Clothing may be dropped off at the agency.

The sizes of needed men's clothing is extra-large pants, pants with a 42-inch waist and 30-inch inseam, and 10 EE shoes. Women's clothing needed includes extra-large shirts, medium pants, sizes 18 to 20 and 22 pants, size 5 junior pants, and sizes 8 and 10 ladies shoes.

A six-year veteran with the Department of Social Services, Dale Lessner was the 2000 Employee of the Year.

The Herald-Mail Articles