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Firefighters battle blaze at Crystal Falls Drive duplex

December 08, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

The routinely quiet Sunday evening in a neighborhood typically aglow with porch lights and holiday decorations was shattered just after 6 p.m. when about a dozen firetrucks converged upon a fire that engulfed half of a two-story duplex near Smithsburg.

Mt. Aetna Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief Eric Banfe said firefighters fought to extinguish the blaze at 10912A Crystal Falls Drive for a little more than an hour after neighbors reported it at 6:10 p.m. Firefighters from Mt. Aetna, Smithsburg, Boonsboro, Funkstown and Halfway responded to a fire that started while the residents of the house were not home.

"When we arrived, nobody was home," Banfe said. "We had to force our way in."

Three firefighters suffered minor injuries and received treatment at the scene from members of Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services, according to Banfe. He said all three were treated for minor burns and refused further treatment.

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Banfe said that while flames did not extend into the area of the other residence inside the structure, 10912B Crystal Falls Drive, extensive damage was caused to the area near the source of the fire.

"They pretty much lost everything," Banfe said.

Assistant State Fire Marshal Ed Ernst said the incident at the house, which was being rented by Jose and Marguerite Flores, was ruled an accident caused by an electrical malfunction inside a lamp wire.

Ernst said the fire was contained to the first floor, though smoke and heat caused approximately $75,000 in structural damage, as well as $25,000 in damages to contents inside the home.

Banfe said the residents did not return home to find the damage until nearly 8 p.m. Banfe also said he did not have a chance to speak with the couple extensively.

Lisa Huntzberry, who lives across the street from the house, said the fire seemed to start from out of nowhere.

"I walked down the street 10 or 15 minutes before the trucks got here and there was nothing." she said.

Crystal Falls Drive resident Troy Huntzberry said he saw smoke billowing out of the home, which is owned by his father, Ronnie Huntzberry, at approximately 6:15 p.m.

"Flames were coming out of the back patio door and shooting up into the second floor," Huntzberry said.

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