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Fire survivors touched by community support

July 30, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - A few hours after fire destroyed a Hagerstown building with 12 apartments Saturday, Christina Davis pulled up to what had been her home.

She soon was reunited with her cat - coincidentally named Smoky - and learned that everything else was gone, including the entire roof over her apartment.

A firefighter rescued the pet from Apt. 12, one of the hardest hit in the 9:15 p.m. fire, according to Richard Miller, assistant fire marshal with the Hagerstown Fire Department.

Miller said the building was a total loss, though he had no dollar estimate Sunday. All but one of the apartments was rented, but many residents weren't home.

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Long Meadow firefighters joined with Hagerstown firefighters to battle the blaze.

"All the tenants got out safely, and all the pets, too," Miller said.

One woman's foot was cut when she stepped on broken glass.

Davis got a call from her boyfriend at 11:15 p.m. Saturday, informing her that their building had been struck by lightning and was on fire.

The property manager called Herman Gebert's cell phone number, not knowing he was in Illinois, Davis said. Gebert immediately began driving to Hagerstown.

A tired and sooty Davis sat on the sidewalk Sunday afternoon in front of the burned-out building at 507 Lynnehaven Drive with fellow residents.

"We lost almost everything," Davis said.

She said she was heartened that so many people showed up through the night and into Sunday to help residents salvage what they could.

Because of the danger of building collapse, firefighters were limiting the number of people going in to retrieve property, Miller said.

"It was an amazing scene," he said.

Stephanie Webb and her boyfriend, Chris Collinson, were on vacation in Chincoteague, Va., when they received a phone message from Stephanie's parents, Mina and Tony Davis.

They live nearby and went to the scene, where they were joined by Diane Collinson, Chris Collinson's mom, Stephanie Webb said.

Through the combined efforts of firefighters and family and friends, little of great value was lost by the couple.

Webb, Collinson and their two dogs - who were with them on vacation - left the apartment parking lot around 5 p.m. Sunday to look for a pet-friendly motel. They said they will begin looking for a new place to live this morning.

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