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'Multiple attempts' made to save girl

January 29, 2009|By DON AINES

o Obituary

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- A 19-month-old child who died in the Tuesday morning fire that destroyed the Fort Loudon Inn died of smoke inhalation, Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner said Wednesday.

Kayla Jo Myers' body was found in the rubble of the inn just before 11 a.m. Tuesday, Conner said. The autopsy was performed Wednesday at Lehigh Valley Medical Center in Allentown, Pa.

"There were multiple attempts in multiple ways" to reach the child, MMP&W said Dusty Stoner, chief of the Mercersburg Montgomery Peters & Warren (MMP&W) Volunteer Fire Department. Firefighters "went above and beyond the call" in their efforts, he said.

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As advanced as the fire was by the time the first units arrived, Stoner said no one could have entered the room where Kayla was found.

"There was fire blowing out every window of that room, 20 to 30 feet in the air," Stoner said.

The 7:06 a.m. incident was reported as a fire with entrapment, Stoner said. When firefighters arrived, there were people outside the inn telling them where they believed people were trapped.

Crews entered the building at different points, trying to make sure rooms were cleared and no one was left behind. Two firefighters from the Maugansville Goodwill Fire Co. were taken to Chambersburg Hospital for treatment after a ceiling fell in on one and another injured a knee trying to get to him, Franklin County Acting Emergency Services Director Susan Dutko said. Donald Saum and Brandon Hull were later released.

Kayla's mother, Stacey Pine of Greencastle, Pa., and another child were visiting an apartment tenant, according to Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal Jeffrey Sarver. Dennis Fox, who did not remember hearing a smoke detector, lived for about two months in the second-floor apartment where the fire broke out, Sarver said.

Other tenants reported they heard smoke alarms, the trooper said.

The propane heater that Sarver believes accidentally started the fire was built into the wall.

Stoner said he did not talk to Kayla's mother or the tenant she was visiting. Both were out of the inn when firefighters arrived, he said.

"Our grief is with that family," Stoner said. "We think we can save everybody and some days we just can't."

Eighteen fire companies, seven ambulance squads, Franklin County Air 10, fire police and state police responded to the scene, as did Allegheny Power. Stoner credited people in the community, as well, for their assistance in responding to the fire.

There were 13 people living in the inn at the time, Dutko said. While some went to stay with relatives, others needed assistance from the Franklin County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Red Cross Emergency Services Director Allen White Jr. said the organization helped two families find lodging with landlords who had available units. A third family was set to move into a new home within a few days and the Red Cross is providing them with hotel lodging until then, he said.

Staff Writer Jennifer Fitch contributed to this story.

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