Survivors Of Clary's Forest Fire Count Their Blessings

A Resident's Cigarette Sparked Morning Blaze

March 18, 1992|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff writer

LUCKY TO BE ALIVE — that's how residents of a condominium complex in Columbia said they felt Monday after a fire severely damaged six units in their building.

No one was injured in the two-alarm blaze, which caused $200,000in damage at Clary's Forest II Condominiums, in the 11500 block of Little Patuxent Parkway.

The fire apparently started at a third-level condominium, where awoman and her two children lived. The woman said the blaze began when a cigarette burned a mattress. Fire officials are still investigating the 4:49 a.m. fire.

The fire heavily damaged the roof and spread to an adjacent unit as well as to one under it. Other nearby condominiums were damaged by smoke and water.

Newlyweds Kelly and Timmy Kugler lost everything, from clothing to photo albums to paintings.

"All my personal belongings -- they're gone," said Kelly Kugler, 20, who moved to the condominium seven months ago. The Kuglers lived below the unit in which the fire began. "We couldn't even walk across the floor because it was buckled. I feel very invaded and very empty. I'm not sure where we're going to go from here."

Kugler said she woke up smelling smoke, looked out the window, and saw an orange glow.She said that she and her husband, a designer, did not have propertyinsurance and would not be able to pay the mortgage or rent an apartment. They'll likely go to her in-laws, she said.

Mark and Jennifer Alexis, who live below the Kuglers, said they were awakened Monday by the barking of their dog, Rocky.

"I opened the door and I saw flares shoot out from the balcony," said Mark Alexis, 35, an upholstery worker.

"We're just really thankful no one's really, really hurt," said Jennifer Alexis, 31, an ad sales representative.

The Howard County Red Cross provided temporary shelter for some of the condominium residents at a hotel. Others are staying with relatives. One manwhose condominium was heavily damaged was out of town.

After midnight the same night, a two-alarm blaze caused more than $75,000 damage to an Ellicott City house on the 4020 block of Spring Meadow Drive.Fire officials say combustible items were placed too near the fireplace. The owner of the house suffered a minor foot burn as she tried to extinguish the blaze.

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