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Family escapes house fire

January 17, 2004

A fire that left a family of eight out in the cold early Friday morning was knocked down in about 30 minutes by members of the Hagerstown Fire Department.

At 12:45 a.m., firefighters were called to 1315 Church St. for a working house fire that Deputy Chief Ron Horn said was mostly contained in the basement. He said there was extensive smoke damage and some heat damage to the first floor of the one-story home.

"I expected it to be a lot worse," he said.

Horn speculated that the fire didn't spread because the basement door was closed.

He said two family pets, a dog and a cat, were killed in the blaze. The Washington County chapter of the American Red Cross helped find shelter for the family, he said.

"They all were very lucky," Horn said.

The fire was ruled accidental. The residents had an extension cord rolled up under a couch and running to a portable heater. The load on the cord heated up until something failed, igniting combustible material, said Doug DeHaven, assistant fire marshal for Hagerstown Fire Department.

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