Three killed in fire

Three others escape Keedysville blaze

Three others escape Keedysville blaze

December 12, 2005|By KAREN HANNA


Three teenagers died Sunday in a house fire in Keedysville, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal's office.

Three other people, including the owner of the home at 22 Mount Hebron Road, escaped without serious injury, the fire marshal's office said.

The investigation into the early-morning blaze was continuing.

According to the fire marshal's office, three teens ? ages 17 to 18 ? died in the blaze, which investigators believe started in the second-floor bedroom where they were sleeping.

Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Allen R. Gosnell said the teens' names would not be released until positive identification was made by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore.


"We're waiting for confirmation from the medical examiner's office of what we think we know," Gosnell said Sunday night.

According to a Washington County Emergency Services dispatcher, the fire was reported at 5:20 a.m. The blaze was under control within about 90 minutes, Gosnell said.

Smoke poured out of a gaping hole in the house's second floor hours later as firefighters threw charred insulation and debris out of the house. Two empty stretchers stood side by side in the snow-covered front yard a few feet from the house.

According to information released by Gosnell and the fire marshal's office, the owner of the 19th-century stone home, Maxwell B. Hope Jr., 54, Hope's 17-year-old son and a 15-year-old escaped the home.

The preliminary investigation revealed that the homeowner had been sleeping in another room when one of the youths woke him to tell him of the fire, according to the fire marshal's office.

The 17-year-old and 15-year-old were treated for smoke inhalation at Washington County Hospital and released, according to the fire marshal's office.

Hope reported the fire from his home, said John Latimer IV, director of Washington County Fire & Emergency Services.

About 50 firefighters from six area companies, including Fairplay, Boonsboro, Hagerstown and Sharpsburg, responded to the blaze, Latimer said.

Neighbors said Hope lived at the home with his son, a Boonsboro High School student. One neighbor, who saw the blaze from his house across the street, said the Hope residence served as a field hospital during the Civil War.

Gosnell said most of the fire damage was contained to the second-floor bedroom where the youths were sleeping. According to the fire marshal's office, the blaze caused about $100,000 in damages.

"There's heat and smoke damage throughout the second floor, water damage throughout the first floor," Gosnell said.

Several of the house's windows were broken in the fire, but the stone exterior of the main portion of the house bore very little visible damage.

Mount Hebron Road resident Roger Burtner said Hope's son often rode a four-wheeler around the area with his friends.

"Many times, up and down this hill, him and his buddies," Burtner said, gesturing toward the intersection with Dogstreet Road.

Investigators are unsure if smoke alarms found in the home were working.

Burtner and his wife of 56 years, Sylvia, walked past the Hope home Sunday morning. Trees line the front of the home, and icicles hung from one evergreen outside the second-floor window.

"It's a horrible tragedy," Burtner said.

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