One dead, 4 hurt in house fire in Parkville Blaze may have been set. Pipe bombs,grenades found recently in building.

August 04, 1992|By Bruce Reid and Richard Irwin | Bruce Reid and Richard Irwin,Staff Writers Staff Writers Roger Twigg and Robert Hilson Jr. contributed to this story.

A 36-year-old woman died early today in a suspicious fire in a Parkville apartment building -- the same building where Baltimore County police found pipe bombs and seven live hand grenades last month.

Police spokesman E. Jay Miller said investigators were trying to determine whether there was a connection between the fire, which also injured four people, and the discovery of the bombs and grenades.

"Neighbors did report hearing some sort of explosion and glass breaking," Mr. Miller said.

"It's open," he said of the investigation. "If there's a connection, we haven't found it."

Mr. Miller said police and fire officials were interviewing residents of the apartment building.

The fire in the 2500 block of Wentworth Road appeared to have been deliberately set, authorities said. The Baltimore County arson squad was looking for clues, a Fire Department spokesman said.

The victim, who died of smoke inhalation, was identified as Kathleen Marie McCoy. She was taken to St. Joseph Hospital shortly after the fire began at 3:42 a.m.

Mrs. McCoy lived in the upper right apartment in the two-story, frame building, Mr. Miller said. The fire appeared to have started in the lower right unit, which was occupied by Paul K. McInturff, 45, said Mr. Miller. Mr. McInturff escaped uninjured.

Injured were Dorothy Holmes, 36, and her 14-month-old son, John Holmes. They were being treated at the Maryland Shock-Trauma Center for smoke inhalation. They were both listed in serious condition.

Another occupant, Gregg Swann, 38, was taken to Franklin Square Hospital, Mr. Miller said. His condition was not available.

Ron Kramer, 34, lived in a basement unit, Mr. Miller said. He was uninjured.

A firefighter was taken to Franklin Square for treatment of minor injuries.

Mr. Miller said Mrs. Holmes' husband, whose first name was not available, recently died. Mr. Miller did not know the cause of his death.

Mr. Miller said that on July 8, soon after Mr. Holmes' death, the man's father-in-law reported that he had found chemicals and other bomb-making material in Mr. Holmes' closet.

Then, on July 18, police evacuated the apartment building after Mrs. Holmes reported finding a box with suspected bombs. The box contained six pipe bombs and the grenades, Mr. Miller said.

Today's fire went to two alarms at 4 a.m. and was declared under control at 4:33 a.m.

Jeff Liebert, 33, who lives across the street, said he ran outside when he heard an explosion.

"We were trying to figure out how to get the people out," he said.

"It's one of those things you wished you could have done more for her," he said of Mrs. McCoy. Fire officials said the child was caught by bystanders after he was dropped from a second-floor window by one of the occupants.

Authorities said Mrs. Holmes tried to jump from a window and into the arms of passers-by but was overcome by smoke while standing in the window frame and had to be rescued by firefighters.

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