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Fire chief: Lighter may have caused fatal fire

February 14, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

A child who probably was playing with a lighter caused the Feb. 5 fire that claimed the life of a Hagerstown man, Hagerstown Fire Chief Gary Hawbaker said Friday.

Henry Dean, 68, died after warning a woman and her three children to leave the burning third-floor apartment they shared with Dean at 201-203 E. Franklin St., Hawbaker has said.

Hawbaker would not say which of the three children caused the fire. Their ages are 1, 2 and 3.

"Our public educator, Mark Weller, is working with all three children," Hawbaker said. "At that age, you can teach them that matches and lighters and stuff are tools, not toys."

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If Hagerstown residents have children who start playing with fire, the family can get help by calling the Hagerstown Fire Department at 301-790-2476, Hawbaker said.

Residents outside the city can call the state fire marshal's office or their local fire department for help, he said.

Dean was found dead in the bathtub of his apartment, where he might have been trying to fight the fire and got trapped, Hawbaker has said.

The autopsy results were not available from the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore as of Friday, Hawbaker said.

The fire began beside a bed in Dean's room where the bedding caught fire, Hawbaker said.

The apartment where the fire began was gutted, Hawbaker said. The apartment below that sustained serious damage.

Hawbaker said he did not know if the property owner had fire insurance.

Long Meadow Bowl is helping to raise money and collect clothing for one of the families that lost its home to the fire, said Linda Williams, director of sales and promotions for Turner's Bowling Centers.

Justin Herold, 8, bowls in the Junior League, Williams said. He and his parents, Vince and Annie, got out of their second-floor apartment with the clothes on their backs, she said.

As of Thursday, $260 had been collected at the 19330 Leitersburg Pike bowling alley, Williams said.

Some of the money was used to buy clothes and toiletry items for the family, she said.

The father wears a 44 waist, 32 length pants size and a 2X or 3X shirt, Williams said.

The mother wears size 28/30 pants size with an elastic waistband and 4X shirts.

The son wears a size 16 husky jeans and his shirt size is 14/16, Williams said.

Donations can be dropped off at Long Meadow Bowl from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays, Williams said.

For more information about the fund-raising effort, call Williams or Shirley Turner at 301-766-4006.

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