Woman 'critical but stable' after being pulled from burning townhouse

December 24, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

BUNKER HILL, W.Va. -- A 48-year-old woman was carried from a burning town house south of Inwood, W.Va., early Thursday by two men who saw the flames as they were driving by on Winchester Avenue, police said.

Patricia "Pat" Miller, 48, was in critical but stable condition at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore on Friday evening, according to a hospital spokesman.

Police previously said the woman was being treated for severe smoke inhalation at City Hospital in Martinsburg, where she was initially taken.  

Miller apparently was asleep in the living room of her two-story home at 15 Creedmore Drive in Bunker Hill when the fire broke out, apparently in the dining room, said Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Lt. Gary Harmison.


Fire damage was estimated at $10,000 to $15,000, Harmison said.

Neighboring town houses in the development south of Runnymeade Road were not damaged and no one else was in the residence when the fire started, Harmison said. The blaze was reported at 3:17 a.m., Harmison said.

"We've narrowed (the cause) down to some wiring and some smoking material," Harmison said, noting that fire investigators found cigarette butts at the scene.

Harmison said the efforts of Andrew McDermott, of Gore, Va., and Jesse Franks, of Bunker Hill, were critical to getting Miller out of the home alive.

The men were traveling south on Winchester Avenue (U.S. 11) when they noticed the structure fire, police said.

After calling 911, the two men went to the door and tried to determine whether anyone was inside the residence, according to a sheriff's department news release.

When McDermott and Franks didn't receive a response, they broke a front window of the town house and forced open the door. Inside, they found a woman lying on a sofa in the living room toward the back of the house, deputies said.

The woman was unresponsive and the two men carried her outside as sheriff's deputies arrived.

Deputies and South Berkeley Volunteer Fire Co. firefighters checked the house to make sure there was no one else inside. They were assisted by the Clear Brook (Va.) Volunteer Fire Department and the 167th Airlift Wing Fire Department based at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport.

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