Five pets killed in house fire on Millers Church Road

March 02, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION |
  • Richard Hosfeld consoles Kimberly Hill Wednesday after a fire destroyed her home on Millers Church Road.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

A fire fueled by high winds on Millers Church Road north of Hagerstown Wednesday afternoon heavily damaged a single-story house and resulted in the death of five pets, according to fire officials and a member of the family.

Although a fire official at the scene said he was not sure of the cause of the 1:48 p.m. blaze at 20715 Millers Church Road off Leitersburg Pike, Barbara Hosfeld, who has lived in the ranch-style home since 1989, said she believes a pan of grease caught fire.

Hosfeld said her son, Richard Hosfeld, had been making French fries and returned to his room when the fire occurred.

Richard Hosfeld was the only person home and called for help, Barbara Hosfeld said.

"Thank God he made it out alive," Barbara Hosfeld said as she sat in front of the house wrapped in a blanket while firefighters worked at the scene.

When firefighters arrived, heavy flames had engulfed about 40 percent of the home, said Kirk Mongan, chief of the Leitersburg Volunteer Fire Co.

High winds along Millers Church Road were blowing through a shattered bay window and open door on the front of the house, which caused the fire to spread faster, Mongan said.

"It really pushed the fire through this house quickly," Mongan said.

Wind gusts in Hagerstown reached 40 mph Wednesday, according to Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer's website at

The middle of the house was charred, and there was significant damage on the back of the house where flames were shooting out.

Mongan said the first firefighters to arrive at the scene battled the fire from the outside until more help arrived. Firefighters then went inside to extinguish the fire, taking about 10 minutes to bring it under control, Mongan said.

Mongan said he believes two dogs and two cats died in the fire. Barbara Hosfeld said a third cat also died.

"I'm going to miss my girls," Hosfeld said, referring to two of the cats that belonged to her.

Hosfeld said her son, his girlfriend and his girlfriend's 21-year-old daughter had recently moved from Nevada and were living with her.

The Red Cross of Washington County provided the family with a place to stay, clothing and food, said Mike Mowen, director of emergency services for the local Red Cross.

Mongan said he believes the house is salvageable.

What started the fire is unknown, but Mongan said he believed it was accidental. Fire marshals will work to determine the cause of the blaze and the extent of damages, he said.

About 70 firefighters from Leitersburg, Smithsburg, Long Meadow, Mt. Aetna, Funkstown and Hagerstown fire departments responded, Mongan said.

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