12 apartments burn in Cockeysville fire residents evacuated

April 15, 1991|By Michael James

A fire that burned 12 apartments at a Cockeysville complex Saturday night appeared to have begun accidentally, possibly because of a malfunction in the heating system, Baltimore County fire investigators said yesterday.

Three firefighters -- two of whom came in contact with live electrical wires while battling the 8:50 p.m. blaze -- were taken to hospitals with injuries, none severe.

Residents of the complex in the first block of Cedar Tree Court were evacuated quickly and without injury, according to Battalion Chief Ralph Nelson, spokesman for the county fire department.

"Although there was substantial damage to their belongings, they were all very fortunate to get out of there," Chief Nelson said. "It really turned into quite a blaze."

All the families have been relocated to other nearby apartment complex units, many of them managed by the same landlord as the Cinnamon Ridge complex where the fire occurred, Chief Nelson said.

The cause of the fire has not been positively determined, although it appeared that a heating system in the rear of the building overheated, Chief Nelson said.

Flames roared through much of the complex as firefighters tried to bring the blaze under control. There was heavy fire and water damage, and most of the 25 to 30 residents who were forced to flee lost most of their personal possessions, Chief Nelson said.

Officials who manage the three-story garden-style apartments could not be reached last night. Investigators estimated the damage to the complex at $400,000.

The three injured firefighters were all from the Providence volunteer fire company. The two who suffered minor electrical shock were identified as John Miller, 18, who was listed in good condition last night at the Francis Scott Key Medical Center, and Gary Zouer, 40, who was released last night.

Chief Nelson said the men did not suffer electrical burns, but complained of "tingling sensations" after receiving the electric shocks.

Another firefighter, Steven Shmick, 23, was released after treatment for exhaustion at St. Joseph Hospital in Towson.

Investigators expected to make a determination on the cause of the fire today.

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