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Kitchen fire in city sends woman to hospital, kills cat

September 22, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

A pot of hot grease sparked a kitchen fire that sent a Hagerstown woman to the hospital Thursday and killed a cat, fire officials said.

The woman, identified as Lainnie Gehring, was taken to Washington County Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation and minor burns on her face, Hagerstown Fire Marshal Tom Brown said.

At 9 p.m. - three hours after the fire was reported - Gehring still was being evaluated at the hospital, a spokeswoman said.

The fire started in the kitchen of Gehring's house at 317 Devonshire Road, south of Salem Avenue, said Kyd Dieterich, a Hagerstown Fire Department battalion chief.

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The fire was accidental, Brown said.

Dieterich said the fire caused a lot of damage to the kitchen. Other parts of the first floor had heavy heat and smoke damage.

Brian Mills, who lives on Wilson Boulevard, said he was driving by when he saw smoke coming out of the front door and the kitchen window.

Mills said he stopped and asked a woman who had stumbled out of the house if there was anyone else inside. She said yes. As he was almost in the door, the woman mentioned her cats, Mills said.

"When I kicked open the front door - phew - the smoke just flew out," he said.

Mills said he rescued one cat. Another cat was pulled out later, but died despite attempts to revive it, he said.

Brown said the other owner of the house, Timothy Gehring, had been home, but left before the fire started. Relatives contacted him later.

Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation records show that the Gehrings bought the 1 1/2-story house June 30. It was built in 1950.

Officials did not know if Lainnie Gehring was in the kitchen when the fire started.

Mike Weller, a fire prevention educator with the Hagerstown Fire Department, said unattended cooking is the top cause of fire in the city. He said that will be the theme of a fire prevention week at the beginning of October.

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