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Neighbors' smoke alarm lessened severity of fire

November 26, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

No one was injured in a small fire in the 200 block of Frederick Street just before noon Tuesday, but fire officials said the fire could have been much worse because there were no smoke alarms in the house.

Fire broke out in the basement of 238 Frederick St., and neighbors called 911 at about 11:50 a.m., fire officials and neighbors said.

Bryan Minnick and Greg Loveless, roommates at 236 Frederick St., share a wall in a duplex with the resident at 238 Frederick St. They said they were alerted to the hazard when their smoke alarms began ringing.

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"I heard the thing chirping and I heard (Bryan) holler. ... He said the basement was full of smoke," Loveless said.

Loveless and his two children left the home, while Minnick walked next door and opened the door, they said.

"It was a whole bunch of smoke," Minnick said.

When firefighters arrived, the fire was confined to the basement of 238 Frederick St. near the furnace, said Hagerstown Fire Department Acting Chief Rick Kipe.

Kipe said the fire broke out when wiring near the furnace shorted, starting a fire in the furnace ducts. Only the ceiling above was damaged once the fire was doused.

Hagerstown Fire Department spokesman Mike Weller said he believed the smoke alarms may have saved the neighbors' lives.

"Had this fire happened at 2 o'clock in the morning, there would have been fatalities," Weller said.

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