Maryland Townhouse Fire Claims Child

BEL AIR, Md. (AP) -- The body of a 5-year-old girl was found after a 10-hour search through the rubble of a Harford County town house destroyed by fire early Monday.

An autopsy will establish cause of death, authorities said. The girl was found shortly after noon.

Fire officials received the call from neighbors in the Queen Anne Square community at 2:16 a.m. The fire was extinguished within 30 minutes, said Deputy State Fire Marshall Howard Ewing.

Over 75 volunteer firefighters responded to the three-alarm blaze, which has left an estimated $1 million in damages. Two adjoining townhouses were also heavily damaged by the fire.

A 23-year-old mother of two girls was injured and was in critical condition at the Baltimore Regional Burn Center at John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, said Ewing. She is the aunt of the missing child. Her two daughters, ages three and seven, have non-life threatening injuries and are in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at John Hopkins Hospital.

Trained canines were brought in to search the remains of the home for the missing child. Authorities said adjoining homes were damaged, but there were no other injuries.

The house was built in 1989 before a July 1992 state law mandated that town houses have sprinklers, Ewing said. Authorities did not know whether the house had working smoke detectors. The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.