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Survivor of house fire still in critical condition

February 24, 2006

A man who jumped three stories to escape a fire in his Fairground Avenue attic apartment Wednesday remained in critical condition Thursday night at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, a spokeswoman there said.

Lester Harmel, 59, broke both of his legs when he jumped. He was flown to Bayview for burn treatment Wednesday morning, Hagerstown Fire Department Battalion Chief Randy Myers said.

Hagerstown Fire Department Chief Gary Hawbaker said Thursday that the fire started in a couch on the second floor of 36 Fairground Ave. A discarded cigarette started the fire, he said.

No estimate on the damages to the house had been made by Thursday morning, he said.

Myers said Harmel sustained burns to one side of his body.

Two families were displaced as a result of the reported 5:12 a.m. blaze at the 34-36 Fairground Ave. building next to an alley close to Sheetz on Potomac Avenue.

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The American Red Cross of Washington County was helping the families, Myers said.

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