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Woman burned in fire

May 15, 2004|By PEPPER BALLARD

A Hagerstown woman was severely burned early Friday in a fire that started in the attic of her East North Avenue home, Hagerstown Fire Department Chief Gary Hawbaker said.

The burn victim was identified as Janice Putnam, said Lt. Richard Johnson of the Hagerstown Police Department.

"She had burns all over her body," Johnson said. "I just know she was severely burned."

Putnam was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center and was listed in critical condition at press time, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Hawbaker said firefighters arriving at the 5:54 a.m. fire at 16 E. North Ave. knocked down the flames within minutes while other firefighters found the woman on the second floor of the house.

"The whole attic was (on fire) when we arrived at the scene," Hawbaker said.

Yellow police tape was stretched across the house's wide front porch at about 8:30 a.m.

Hagerstown Police Department Chief Arthur Smith stood with officers and Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Viki Pauler, the county's violent crime prosecutor, on the front porch of the tan painted house, which sits next to All-Ways Communications, about two houses down from East North Avenue's intersection with North Potomac Street.

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Hagerstown Fire Marshal Tom Brown said that the cause of the fire will be under investigation for "a while."

A small window at the top of Putnam's house was rimmed with black from the fire.

Hawbaker said the woman was the only person in the house. He said the fire started in the attic, which is above the second floor.

Neighbor Tom Todaro, 53, of 35 E. North Ave., said Putnam, whom he's known for about 20 years, is about his age. He said he saw Putnam's son leave the house earlier in the evening Thursday with his father, whom Todaro said lives in the Frederick, Md., area.

He said the second floor of her home is where her graphic arts business office, living room and kitchen are located.

"She's a very upbeat person all the time," Todaro said.

Neighbor Johannah Brugh, 46, of 31 E. North Ave., said Putnam is "a very wonderful, wonderful neighbor" who takes "fantastic" care of her home's landscaping.

Brugh said Putnam takes the most care with her teenage son. Brugh said she is greatly concerned about how the boy will hold up while his mother deals with her injuries.

Brugh said Putnam was very involved in the neighborhood and performed frequent cleanup projects.

Hawbaker said that about 25 firefighters from Hagerstown, Long Meadow and Halfway were at the scene. He said the Washington County Air Unit also responded to the scene.

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