House burns, 1 dead

April 09, 2004|by Gregory T. Simmons and Tara Reilly

HAGERSTOWN - Firefighters called to a fire in Hagerstown's West End on Thursday found a man dead inside the home.

Hagerstown Fire Battalion Chief Randy Myers said the fire department received a call reporting a fire at 460 McDowell Ave., with a person trapped inside a house.

Myers said that when firefighters arrived they found the house fully involved in fire. A man was found dead inside.

Myers said it was not immediately clear whether anyone else was in the home at the time of the fire.

"Everything at this point is under investigation," Myers said.

Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith identified the man found dead as Shane Meldron, but he could not confirm the spelling of the name. He said Meldron was about 40 years old.

The Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation lists the owner of the house as James Meldron Sr.

Smith said police were at the scene to assist the fire department and did not file a report.


City fire officials said the fire broke out in a second-floor bedroom.

Hagerstown Fire Chief Gary Hawbaker said that while the city Fire Marshal's Office would continue investigating the fire, "it's probably going to be a matter of, when we have a fatality, wait until the autopsy."

A second man was taken by ambulance to Washington County Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, Hawbaker said.

Hawbaker said the fire department was not releasing information about the victims. He said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

The fire call went out at 1:51 p.m., and Myers arrived at 1:52 p.m., Hawbaker said.

Four minutes later, the body of a man was pulled from the house onto a small roof just below an upstairs window.

Authorities took the body from the scene about 3:30 p.m.

An area around the gray-sided home with maroon trim was blocked off with yellow tape. One ladder was against the front of the house and another was against the back of the house.

Firefighters could be seen sitting or standing and talking on the roof shortly before the man's body was taken away.

Dozens of neighbors gathered on sidewalks.

Many of the residents said they knew the man who died but they didn't want to comment.

Shirley Sylvester, who lives next door to the fire site, said she saw smoke coming from the back of the house, and later saw firefighters take the body of a man out the back upstairs window.

She said it appeared the fire was put out quickly.

"I'm glad they got the fire out when they did," Sylvester said. "The fire didn't look too bad."

She said she didn't know much about the man who died, but that he went to school with her children.

"He didn't come out a whole lot," Sylvester said.

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