Fatal House Fire in Frostburg, MD

November 11, 2003 - At 05:30 the Frostburg Fire Department was alerted for a fully involved house fire with possible entrapment at 161 S. Water St, in Frostburg. Deputy Chief 16-2 was first to arrive, and found one resident out of the house, with one still inside. He reported the building well involved, confirmed entrapment and requested the 2nd Alarm assignment.. Engine 16-14 arrived, laid supply line from the hydrant, and the crew pulled a 1 3/4" crosslay and went to begin a search for the trapped occupant. After making entry, they found the elderly male resident just inside the locked front door. He was removed to the outside of the building, were it was determined that he had expired. The crew then went back into the house and began to attack the fire. Squad 16 arrived and crew pulled a 2" hand line from Engine 16-14, but that line was unable to be put inservice due to insufficient water supply. The fire progressed rapidly out of control, and an evacuation was ordered. C! rews then moved into a defensive attack.

Engine 17-12 arrived and laid another supply line and hooked into and supplied Engine 16-14. This enabled additional lines to be put inservice, including Engine 16-14's deck gun. Crews finally got the fire knocked down, and were able to get into the house to perform overhaul operations. While there were no other houses close, there was some extension of the fire to brush surrounding the property. This was easily controlled though. There were no smoke detectors in the house, thereby allowing the fire to get a good start before we were every even called. The house and almost all belongings were a total loss. Damages have been estimated at $100,000.

In addition to the one fatality, several pets perished in the blaze, including 2 dogs and several cats. The elderly female resident that escaped the fire was uninjured, but was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital by Frostburg Ambulance, for evaluation and to talk with the crisis counselor. Deputies from the Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office responded, and continue to investigate the cause. At this time, the fire appears to be accidental in nature, and started in the kitchen. Thee last units cleared the scene at 11:55.

This was the first fatal fire in Frostburg since May 4, 1984, when two college students died in an accidental fire in a residence at 184 E. College Ave. It should be noted that fatality in this fire could have been prevented if there had been working smoke detectors in the residence.

Units responding included: Engine 16-14, Squad 16, Truck 16, Engine 16-12, Utility 16, Engine 17-12 (Shaft), Engine-Tanker 14, Air 14 (Clarysville), Engine 18-12 (Midland), Engine-Tanker 19 (Barton), Engine 15-12, Ambulance 379 (Mt. Savage), Squad 2 (LaVale), Engine 82, Squad 85 (Eastern Garrett), Ambulance 364 (Frostburg Area Ambulance). The incident commander was Deputy Chief 16-2, Mike Kucharczyk.

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