Two young children were killed yesterday afternoon northwest of Hagerstown in Washington County when a fire ravaged the mobile home in which they were playing, state fire officials said.
The 2-year-olds -- Kevin R. Doyle and Heather L. Higgins -- were playing in a rear bedroom of the mobile home located on a farm in Fairview when the fire was discovered.
Deputy Maryland Fire Marshal Robert B. Thomas said the children's 13-year-old baby-sitter first saw smoke in the trailer's laundry room at about 2:30 p.m.
The smoke quickly filled the home, 12 feet by 25 feet, on Gossard Mill Road, Mr. Thomas said.
The baby-sitter, 13-year-old Nellie Myers, tried several times to find her way to the bedroom where the children were playing, but she could not tolerate the smoke.
She then ran out the front door to try to find Kevin's father, Wayne Doyle, who works on the farm.
However, the state fire official said, the mobile home was engulfed in flames by the time the two returned.
More than 70 firefighters battled the blaze for about 15 minutes. When it was extinguished, the children's bodies were found in the bedroom.
An investigation to determine the cause of the fire will continue, but Mr. Thomas said the fire appeared to have begun behind an electric clothes dryer.
The mobile home and all its contents, which were valued at more than $25,000, were destroyed, Mr. Thomas said.
He said that there was no smoke detector in the home and suggested that such a device, if properly working, could have warned the baby-sitter of the fire in time to save the children's lives.
State law requires installation of a smoke detector in mobile homes. The one that burned was owned by Wayne and Kaye Doyle, the deputy fire marshal said.
Mr. Thomas noted that National Fire Prevention Week -- during which the importance of fire safety in the home will be emphasized -- begins tomorrow.