Baby girl dies, brother critically injured in fire

January 08, 1994|By Peter Hermann and Michael James | Peter Hermann and Michael James,Staff Writers

A baby girl died in her crib and her 2 1/2 -year-old brother was critically burned over 90 percent of his body yesterday after the boy started a fire at their Pasadena home while playing with a cigarette lighter, fire officials said.

Three adults -- including the children's parents -- suffered smoke inhalation and were treated at North Arundel Hospital.

"After all this tragedy, it gets even worse. The house had smoke detectors on the first and second floors and neither had batteries," said Battalion Chief Gary Sheckells, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department. "Had they been working, it probably would have alerted the family much quicker so they could have saved the children."

Killed in the fire was Christine M. Johnson, 17 months, fire officials said. Listed in critical condition last night at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center was her brother, Allan C. Johnson 3rd, who suffered second- and third-degree burns over 90 percent of his body, Chief Sheckells said.

Firefighters went to the home about 4:20 p.m. and were met at the door by family members who said, "Their babies were trapped on the second floor," Chief Sheckells said.

Firefighters, confronting intense heat and smoke, quickly put out the fire in the second-floor bedroom.

Both children were taken to North Arundel Hospital, where Christine was pronounced dead on arrival. Allan was later transferred to Hopkins.

In the burned debris of Allan's bedding, firefighters found a melted cigarette lighter, Chief Sheckells said.

Four adults were home on the first floor at the time of the fire, officials said.

Angel Johnson, the children's mother, was treated for smoke inhalation at North Arundel and later transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital for observation.

Her husband and the children's father, Allan C. Johnson Jr., 34, was treated and released for smoke inhalation at North Arundel.

Anthony DeTroy, 18, the children's uncle, was also treated at North Arundel and released.

Another relative, Bruce A. DeTroy, was not injured.

"We had two tragic circumstances in this one fire, namely, a child playing with a lighter, and improperly maintained smoke detectors," Chief Sheckells said. "Disposable lighters come in various colors and they are interesting and attractive to children. They are interested in them as toys. Parents have to keep them out of children's reach."

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