A fire that burned for more than two hours yesterday morning destroyed the top floor of a Sykesville duplex, but firefighters prevented the blaze from spreading to the adjacent home.
Deputy State Fire Marshal Frank M. Rauschenberg said the fire caused an estimated $30,000 damage to the duplex, in the 7500 block of Braemar Court in the Lexington Run subdivision.
The fire destroyed most of the second floor of the home before it was brought under control by firefighters from three companies. County fire officials said the blaze was extinguished about 2 1/2 hours after firefighters were called to the scene at 7:58 a.m.
Firefighters from Sykesville, Gamber, Winfield and West Friendship responded to the alarm and spread protective covers over the furniture on the first floor of the three-bedroom house in an attempt to prevent damage from water and smoke that cascaded from the second floor.
Capt. Barry Poff, of the Sykesville-Freedom Fire Company, was treated at the scene for first-degree burns on his face and neck, Mr. Rauschenberg said.
Mr. Rauschenberg said the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Pamela Wood, who lives in the house that burned, said her daughter, Janet Watts, 14, was alone in the home and apparently was burning incense in her bedroom. The girl walked out of the room to answer the telephone and returned to find the bed on fire, Ms. Wood said.
The girl fled the house, Ms. Wood said, and was not injured.
Ms. Wood, who works in Columbia, said, "I had just walked into my office when I was called and told of the fire, but I got no information about my daughter.
"I panicked and drove on the shoulder of the road sometimes and passed cars so I could to get here as fast as I could," she said. "I found her safe when I got here."
Valerie Baker, who lives in the other home in the duplex, said Tina Moynihan, a neighbor and friend, called to tell her of the fire.
Mrs. Baker said she had heard the sound of glass breaking earlier, but thought her next-door neighbors were cleaning and broke something.
She said she was preparing breakfast for her 8-year-old daughter, Heather, and was walking toward the sliding glass doors leading to a wooden deck at the rear of the house when the phone rang.
When she answered the phone, Mrs. Moynihan, who lives on Norris Avenue about 150 yards behind the Baker house, shouted at her, "My god, get out of the house, the next-door house is on fire!"
While Mrs. Baker was on the phone, her daughter answered a banging on the front door and was told by another neighbor to get out of the house to avoid the fire.
"I ran upstairs to wake my son Chris, 15, who was still in bed, and we all ran outside," Mrs. Baker said.
She said she looked out the rear of her house before she left and saw flames leaping out the back of the adjoining house.
"When we got out front, heavy black smoke was rolling from the second-floor windows. It must have been burning for some time," she said.
Mrs. Moynihan said she was making her son's bed when she "looked out the window and saw the flames and smoke coming from the rear windows of the house next to Valerie [Baker], and I was sure that somebody much closer had called the fire department, so I continued to work in the bedroom.
"About 10 minutes later, I saw Valerie looking out the rear of her house and suddenly realized, 'My god, she doesn't know about the fire.' So I called her and told her to get out of the house."
Mrs. Baker credited an 8-inch concrete block wall between the two houses with keeping the blaze from spreading to her side of the duplex.