An early morning fire in Cockeysville yesterday killed a 37-year-old man and gutted the travel trailer he was using as a makeshift residence.
John Patrick Morgan, who sporadically took shelter in the trailer, was pronounced dead at the scene.
"He knew the trailer was here, and used it for living quarters on and off for several months," said Sgt. Charles Rapp of the Baltimore County police fire investigation unit.
The 16-foot trailer had no heat or electricity.
When the trailer owner called 911, she said she was unsure if anyone was inside the smoking structure.
Investigators called the fire accidental. "There was an electrical malfunction, probably from an overloaded extension cord which ran to the garage," Sergeant Rapp said.
Estelle Monks, of the 800 block of W. Padonia Road, said she looked out her bedroom window and saw "thick, white smoke coming out of all the trailer windows." She owns the trailer, which was parked about 200 feet from her house.
She called for help at 7:58 a.m. "The initial report said smoke but not flames, and it was unknown if anyone was inside," Battalion ** Chief Jim Devers said.
Firefighters found the victim lying by the door. "He was dead when crews got there," Sergeant Rapp said.
Ms. Monks said that she saw only smoke coming from the aluminum travel trailer parked near her garage.
The top of the trailer sealed in the fire, and "smoke vented out through the windows," Sergeant Rapp said.
Fire crews tore the trailer apart to douse flames in its walls, Mr. Devers said. "The fire was contained in the trailer and was knocked down within a few minutes," he said. "The engine company remained on the scene for two hours during an arson investigation."
Surrounding buildings were not damaged.
Ms. Monks, 82, said she had not used the trailer in several years and had been trying to get rid of it -- and the victim -- for months. "He never paid any rent," she said. "If he had listened to me and left, he would be living still."