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Police say cigarette ash caused Pa. building fire

October 01, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - State Police investigators confirmed Tuesday the fire that destroyed a historic building in Center Square Friday began inside the second-floor apartment of a man who jumped from a side window of the burning building.

Investigators also confirmed the resident, William Hamilton, suffered carbon monoxide inhalation, burns to his hands and a broken leg from the blaze and his ensuing leap.

The fire, which gutted the inside of the 16-apartment building and destroyed much of its roof, erupted at approximately 6:10 a.m. Friday at the Carriage House Hotel, 5 S. Main St. Police said a cigarette ash from an ashtray left in the area of a love seat was the cause of the fire, which caused approximately $500,000 in damages.

During the blaze, two firefighters rescued a woman from the window of her apartment, which was nearly completely engulfed by flames, atop a ladder.

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Hamilton was flown to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, where he was listed in good condition Sunday, a spokeswoman said. A spokeswoman could not be reached for additional comment Tuesday.

Chambersburg-based Trooper Skip Sydnor, the fire marshal investigating the blaze, could not be reached for additional comments Monday or Tuesday.

The structure, originally a log house built between 1821 and 1827, housed several families and businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores and bakeries, in its 175-plus years.

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