Neighbors help victims of fire in Whitehurst Monday blaze leaves family homeless but not hopeless

November 29, 1995|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Neighbors are collecting clothing and setting up a trust fund for a family whose home in the Whitehurst community of Severna Park was destroyed by fire.

No one was seriously injured Monday in the blaze in the 200 block of Marlinspike Drive, but it left the family of Michael and Cheryl Marchonis homeless, said Battalion Chief J. Gary Sheckells, a spokesman for the county Fire Department.

The family's two dogs were killed. A firefighter cut his finger, and another received first- and second-degree burns on his knees. Both firefighters were treated at the scene.

Ten fire engines, four ladder trucks, one squad truck and three paramedic units responded to the 9:08 p.m. report that the split-foyer home was in flames.

Though the fire was under control by 10:15 p.m., most of the house was destroyed and all the contents were lost, said Chief Sheckells. Preliminary reports estimate the value of the home at about $200,000 and the contents at about $100,000.

Barbara Wasson was clearing the dinner table that night when she and her husband heard the firetrucks rush by their nearby home, in the 200 block of Bowline Road, and followed the trucks.

"Flames were coming out of the house," Mrs. Wasson, 51, recalled. "It was a very scary feeling."

Chief Sheckells said the fire was reported when one of the Marchonis' two sons smelled smoke coming from a vent; the family ran out of the house and called firefighters from a neighbor's home.

The first fire engine was on the scene in six minutes, Chief Sheckells said, but about half the house already was on fire.

Chief Sheckells said investigators are looking for the cause of the blaze and are concentrating on the downstairs family room.

The Marchonis family is staying with a daughter in Arnold, and neighbors such as Mrs. Wasson are doing what they can to help, collecting clothing for the family, offering to make dinner.

Mrs. Wasson is opening a trust fund for the Marchonis family at First National Bank of Severna Park.

"This is a very close-knit community," said Mrs. Wasson, who has known the Marchonis family for the past 10 years. "Anything that affects someone in a negative way hurts us, too."

Mrs. Wasson said Whitehurst residents are just doing what the Marchonis family would do for them.

"If you needed something, they would've helped you," Mrs. Wasson said. "We can only try to help them now."

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