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Microwave fire burns kitchen

October 25, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

A Washington County woman was to stay with family Friday night after her Dogstreet Road home was damaged by a fire that started when a microwave cord shorted out, a deputy state fire marshal said.

The homeowner, Phyllis Bidle, was not home at the time of the fire.

Washington County Sheriff's Department deputies and firefighters believed at first that someone was in the home as heavy smoke poured out from a fire in the kitchen, fire officials said. There were four vehicles in the driveway and responders heard what sounded like screams, said Fire Chief Oley Griffith with The First Hose Company of Boonsboro.

The screams were coming from a small black and gray kitten, which was found in the living room, firefighters said. Her paws were burned, but she appeared to be OK.

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The 4:20 p.m. fire was contained to the kitchen, Deputy State Fire Marshal Edward Ernst said. There was smoke damage throughout the house.

Firefighters arrived at 4:30 p.m. and had the fire under control within 13 minutes, Ernst said.

The two-story farmhouse at 20059 Dogstreet Road south of Boonsboro was originally a log home that probably was built in the 1800s, Ernst said.

The fire did not cause structural damage, he said. Damage to the house and its contents was estimated at $15,000.

Fire and police officials said the fire was spotted by two deputies on their way home. Griffith said someone else might have told the deputies about the fire.

Griffith and the police yelled into the kitchen to try to find out if anyone was inside, but had to wait for firefighters with gear to arrive before searches could be conducted, Griffith said.

Ernst said the microwave was one of four items plugged into an outlet strip that did not appear to have a surge protector. A surge protector might have prevented the fire, though Ernst said they can malfunction. The outlet strip was mounted to a windowsill.

A short can happen with anything that is plugged in constantly, including a lamp or coffee pot, Ernst said. Residents should make sure cords to their appliances are flat, not pinched and not knotted, he said.

Fifty firefighters from Boonsboro, Sharpsburg, Rohrersville, Potomac Valley, Funkstown and Middletown, Md., as well as the Washington County Air Unit and the Washington County Rehab Unit responded. Three tanker trucks also were called in.

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