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Woman rescues neighbor from fire

July 24, 2007|By ERIN JULIUS

CLEAR SPRING - A Clear Spring woman rescued her wheelchair-bound neighbor Monday morning after a fire broke out in the 11400 block of Dam No. 5 Road.

Christine Hoffman, 39, said she woke up when she smelled fire just before 3 a.m. She awakened her husband so they could search the house, then the couple realized the fire was outside.

Her husband, Brian Hoffman, tried to put out the fire on their neighbor's back porch with a garden house, she said.

Gas cans started exploding and a van caught fire, Christine Hoffman said.

She called 911 and was told to get everyone out of the house, she said.

Hoffman knew a wheelchair-bound woman lived in the home, she said. Hoffman broke out the front-door window with her fist, but she couldn't get inside, she said.

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Brian Hoffman knocked down the door, and Christine Hoffman found her neighbor, Mildred Hart, already in her wheelchair, she said.

Christine Hoffman spent about three hours in the emergency room Monday, and she required seven stitches for a cut she got smashing in the window, she said.

Mildred Hart's son, Donald Hart, and Brian Hoffman both tried to put out the fire until firefighters arrived, Deputy State Fire Marshal Michael Mattingly said.

The 2001 Chevrolet van parked near the home was destroyed by the fire, Mattingly said. The fire, which started on the back porch, also scorched the house's siding, he said.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation, Mattingly said.

The van, which Donald Hart used for his carpentry business, and its contents were worth about $10,000, according to a news release from the Maryland State Fire Marshal. The fire caused about $1,000 in damage to the home.

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