Heater is blamed for fatal house fire Woman, 71, is found dead. Husband, 76, is critically burned.

April 20, 1992|By William B. Talbott and Joe Nawrozki | William B. Talbott and Joe Nawrozki,Staff Writers

A 71-year-old woman died and her husband was critically burned early today when a one-alarm fire -- apparently started by a kerosene space heater -- swept up the stairway of their southwest Baltimore rowhouse.

The victim was pronounced dead on the scene, probably from smoke inhalation, investigators said. Her body was removed to the state Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore, where an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death.

The woman's 76-year-old husband suffered third-degree burns on his upper body and was listed in critical condition at the Francis Scott Key Medical Center's burn unit, spokeswoman Sandy Rachert said.

The couple was not immediately identified, pending notification of relatives.

City Fire Department Capt. John Griffin said the fire was reported at 2:51 a.m. at the house in the 400 block of Brunswick St.

The fire apparently started in a kerosene space heater and spread through the front living room.

The flames then climbed up the stairway and filled the upper floor with smoke, said Det. Richard Fahlteich of the Police Department arson unit.

After firefighters extinguished the fire, the woman's body was found on the floor next to her bed in a front bedroom.

The husband was found with his upper body next to the stairs where the fire was most intense, Capt. Griffin said.

Margaret Arndt, a next door neighbor, said the couple had lived in their house for more than 20 years.

She said the husband was a retiree who often swept or hosed down the pavement in front of his other neighbor's homes.

Capt. Griffin said damage to the home was estimated to be about $30,000.

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