Pa. man faces charges in Hagerstown-area fire

May 26, 2008

A 21-year old Pennsylvania man was charged Sunday morning with malicious burning in connection with a fire Saturday night east of Hagerstown that exposed three firefighters and four others to toxic smoke.

Daniel Wayne Coulter, 21, of 111 Dallas Drive in Greencastle, Pa., was taken into custody after being released from the hospital.

The 8:46 p.m. fire occurred outside a 50-by-10-foot wood frame structure on Bovey Lane, according to Joseph Zurolo, spokesman for the Maryland State Fire Marshals office.

Firefighters from Funkstown and Smithsburg, along with Haz-Mat 20 responded for a smoke investigation. When firefighters arrived, they found a small fire outside the building.


While extinguishing the blaze, three firefighters from the Funkstown Fire Co., three Hagerstown teens and a 21-year-old who were at the scene were overcome by toxic smoke, fire marshals said.

Funkstown Fire Chief David Fraley and firefighters Nick Hamilton and Michael Likens were treated at Washington County Hospital for chemical smoke inhalation and later released, fire marshals said.

The other four victims also were treated for inhalation.

Investigators allege Coulter entered the unoccupied structure and took a torpedo-type heater from inside. The heater was used to ignite rolls of paper and was placed against a drum of gear oil.

Then, approximately 25 gallons of an unknown material were added to the fire, which produced a reddish cloud. That is when firefighters and the four civilians were overcome by toxic smoke, fire marshals said.

Coulter was charged with second-degree malicious burning and three counts of reckless endangerment. He was taken before a Washington County District Court Commissioner and released on $10,000 bond pending trial, fire marshals said.

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