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Smoke fills home

man is found dead

December 19, 2003|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

A Hagerstown man died Thursday after failing to escape from his smoke-filled Marshall Street home, a fire official said.

Hagerstown Fire Department Acting Chief Rick Kipe said Ricky Wayne Presley, 42, of 918 Marshall St., was found dead in his home at 4:16 p.m. Kipe said Presley's mother made the discovery upon returning home from work.

Kipe said investigators' preliminary findings indicate the fire was accidental and caused by a cigarette.

Neither of Presley's parents, Harold and Ethel Presley, were home at the time of the fire, Kipe said.

Kipe said the fire was attributed to Presley smoking in a living room chair.

The fire blocked the front door, so Presley attempted, unsuccessfully, to get to a back door near the kitchen, he said.

"He tried to exit the living room and was overcome by the smoke," Kipe said.

At dusk, fire and police investigators snapped photos inside and outside the home for their investigation into the death, although Kipe said investigators believed early on that it was an accidental fire.

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Investigators continued to speak with neighbors into the evening while firetrucks and yellow tape cordoned off the street and the ice-covered sidewalks in the area of the home. The only visible sign of fire was a smoky film covering a front window of the residence and the flashing lights of firetrucks that drew passers-by from the neighborhood.

The fire investigation is being led by Hagerstown Fire Marshall Tom Brown, according to Battalion Chief Kyd Dieterich.

Dieterich said Thursday evening that he didn't know when Presley's autopsy would be performed. Dieterich reaffirmed that investigators found no signs of foul play at the scene.

Dieterich said it appears the fire may have started in the morning, hours before Presley was found.

"(A neighbor) said at 9:30 (a.m.) there was some 'condensation on the window' that looked out of place, maybe," Dieterich said.

The small fire eventually burned itself out before it could spread to other portions of the home, but not before causing extensive heat and smoke damage throughout the structure, Dieterich said.

"It was unusual in the fact that the fire burned itself out because of a lack of oxygen," Dieterich said. "The house is closed up very tight."

Staff writer Gregory T. Simmons contributed to this story.

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