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Dog dies, families displaced in fire

March 18, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- A Hagerstown fire captain said unattended cooking caused a fire Wednesday morning that killed one dog and displaced two families who lived in a duplex on South Cannon Avenue.

The fire started at about 11 a.m. in the stove at 365 S. Cannon Ave., Hagerstown Fire Capt. Mark A. Cleck said.

He said it took firefighters about 10 minutes to contain the fire, which was still smoking at noon.

The first floor of 365 S. Cannon Ave. was extensively damaged by fire, and the second floor had smoke damage, Cleck said.

He said the other part of the duplex, at 363 S. Cannon Ave., had minor smoke damage.

Cleck said no one was injured, but one dog that had been in 365 S. Cannon Ave. died. Three other dogs, including two from the other section of the duplex, were rescued.

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Christine Younger, a resident of 363 S. Cannon Ave., said several people called her at work to tell her about the fire.

Younger paced nervously on the sidewalk as she awaited word on the fate of her Chihuahua, Ginger, who was trapped upstairs.

"She won't come down the steps," Younger said. "She's afraid of them. ... She's probably dead. She's probably dead."

Younger cried when a firefighter carried the dog outside wrapped in his arms.

"My gosh, my baby," she said. "Everyone's alive. Everyone's safe. I'm good."

Younger said her other dog, a cocker spaniel named Paige, had gotten out earlier.

James Russ said he was watching Younger's 9-year-old son when he smelled smoke.

Russ immediately called the fire department and went outside with the youngster, who was home from school recuperating after a dental appointment.

"My first intention was to get my boy out," Russ said. "It was more smoke than fire ... I'm thankful to be alive."

Mike Mowen, director of emergency services for the Red Cross of Washington County, said the organization provided one of the families with clothing and a hotel room.

The length of the stay varies on a case-by-case basis, but "emergency assistance (usually) is for two to three days," he said. "I want to give credit to the volunteers who responded. They take time out of their day to help."

Mowen said the other family that was affected by the fire was staying with relatives.

The entire Hagerstown Fire Department and one fire engine from Maugansville responded to the scene, Cleck said.

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