On This Day in FFD History

November 12, 2016 Events  No comments

water-st-fatal-fireReprinted from the Cumberland Times-News, Wednesday, November 12, 2003 Pages 1 & 11


Frostburg Man Dies In Blaze After Alerting Wife, Who Escapes.
House Not Equipped With Smoke Alarms

A South water Street man died in a blaze early Tuesday at his home that did not have smoke detectors, an investigation by the MD State Fire Marshal’s Office determined. The man’s wife, however, was able to escape after he alerted her to the fire.
Melvin Harris, 82, was found just inside the front door of his 161 S. Water Street home following the 5:27 a.m. blaze. Harris apparently had been sleeping on the living room sofa when he was awakened by the blaze. He was able to yell for his wife, Helen, 82, to get out, and she escaped through a side door, the fire marshal’s office said.

The Harris’s owned and occupied the one-story, wood-frame residence with brick exterior that is near Frostburg’s public swimming pool. The fire caused damage estimated at $100,000. There is nothing suspicious about the fir at this point,” said a C3I investigator, noting that police routinely investigate all fires that involve fatalities.

Winner’s Lane resident Allen Winebrenner was driving to work along Lower Consul Road when he saw smoke and fire coming from the Harris residence. He drove to the Frostburg Police station to alert authorities to the incident and then drove back to the scene.

Frostburg Fire Department Assistant Chief Eric Yates was with the first crew to arrive at the scene. “The house was fully involved and we tried to search for the occupant but we had to evacuate when part of the house collapsed,” said Yates. Approximately 50 volunteer firefighters from Frostburg, Shaft, Clarysville, Mount savage, Midland, Barton, Ellerslie, Bowling Green, Eastern Garrett and LaVale responded. It took about 30 minutes to control the fire. At 7:17 am, however, firefighters were still working to “get the fire knocked down,” said Yates. No other structures were involved in the fire, which kept volunteers there for more than six hours.

State Fire Marshal William Barnard said that the futility serves as a reminder that residents should protect themselves with smoke detectors. “Working smoke alarms and home escape plans are two of the best steps people can take to help prevent similar tragedies,” he said.

Tuesday’s fire 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 Avenue, according to Frostburg Fire Chief Gary Tummino.

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