Police search intensifies for woman missing after fire

February 11, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

CLEAR SPRING - Horse trailers, K-9 units and police cruisers lined Hicksville Road near Clear Spring as more than 20 volunteers, law enforcement officers and fire marshals combed farmland Thursday searching for a woman who has been missing since a Sunday fire destroyed her residence.

Carol Jean Bank, 55, a tenant at 15033 Hicksville Road - a converted barn that was ravaged by flames late Sunday - has not been seen since the fire, said Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class Russell Plante, who has initiated a missing persons investigation.

Plante said Thursday that the search for Bank would continue into the night or "until the area is covered."

Maryland State Police Sgt. Eric Fogle, who headed the search operation, said a 600-meter radius around the house, including buildings and grounds, was being searched.


Bank is described as being white, about 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing about 125 pounds, according to a police news release.

She was last seen at her apartment Sunday at about 1 p.m., Plante has said.

Twisted metal, cinder blocks and rubble were piled high at the site where Donna Dorsey's home of five years stood. Bank had been a tenant there for about two years, Dorsey said.

Dorsey, who lived at the house with her husband and three children, said Bank was like family.

"We love her, and we will be there for her," Dorsey said. "We just want her found. Carol was a nice lady. She was a good person."

Volunteers in reflective gear rode horses that slowly trotted along dirt roads near the rubble. Dalmatians, German shepherds and golden retrievers were led around by search team members. A Maryland State Police helicopter took to the sky in search of Bank.

Gosnell pointed to the rubble and said, "We had to systematically take that apart to make sure she wasn't there."

He said the cause of the fire was undetermined.

"The reason we need to talk to Miss Bank is because the fire started in her bedroom," Gosnell said. "Accidents happen. We need information."

Dorsey said her puppy, Millie, survived the blaze. She has seen three of her five outdoor cats. Firefighters rescued her bunnies and put them in a pen, she said.

Her family is staying with friends who live nearby, she said.

Billy Nguyen, who rented a ground-floor apartment inside the home, escaped without injury.

Police ask anyone with information about Bank's whereabouts to call them at 301-739-2101.

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