Father, teen son die in Dundalk blaze caused by an overloaded extension cord Woman escapes fire, suffers smoke inhalation

November 13, 1996|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Richard Irwin contributed to this article.

An overloaded extension cord caused the Monday night blaze that fatally injured a Dundalk man and his son, Baltimore County fire officials said yesterday.

John Jack Dembeck, 47, who shared the rowhouse in the 100 block of Patapsco Ave. with his wife, Margaret, 40, and son Jason, 16, was found by firefighters in the first-floor dining room.

Mr. Dembeck was pronounced dead at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center of apparent smoke inhalation, said Battalion Chief Mark Hubbard, a Fire Department spokesman.

Firefighters rescued Jason Dembeck from a second-floor bedroom, Hubbard said.

A nursing supervisor at the Bayview Medical Center's burn unit said the son, who suffered burns over 45 percent of his body, died at 4 p.m. yesterday.

Margaret Dembeck escaped through a second-floor window and was being treated yesterday at Bayview for smoke inhalation.

No smoke detectors were found in the rowhouse after the fire, which caused about $20,000 in damage, Hubbard said.

He said the fire began about 11: 30 p.m. and was started by an extension cord behind a living room sofa, probably under the carpet. The cord had too many appliances plugged into it, he said.

Neighbors in the quiet street near Dundalk Town Square said they heard yelling and saw smoke seeping in through the walls and attics of their homes, none of which was damaged by fire.

"I just happened to be up and taking off my fingernail polish when the I saw the smoke coming through my attic," said Angela Kempa, who lives next to the Dembecks. "I ran through the house waking my kids up, and when I got outside, I saw Mrs. Dembeck on the roof."

Mrs. Dembeck was walking along the porch roof trying to get to the ground, the neighbors said.

Frank Cosentino, another neighbor, said he opened his bedroom window and pulled Mrs. Dembeck into his house. She ran outside to the front of her house, Cosentino said.

"She was absolutely hysterical," he said. "She was screaming for her husband and son and to get them out of the house."

Kempa said she stopped Mrs. Dembeck from going back into the house.

"I just hugged her and told her to calm down," Kempa said. "I told her none of us could go into that house. The smoke and the flames were too thick. Then she collapsed into my arms."

Hubbard said that although the fire was contained in the living room, smoke and heat quickly traveled up the stairs.

The fire was under control shortly after 12: 30 a.m. yesterday. By late morning, the second-story windows were boarded up and the burned sofa and other furniture were piled in the front yard.

"This is such a tragedy for that family," Cosentino said.

Neighbors said the family had lived in the neighborhood about 18 years.

John Dembeck worked for more than 20 years as a surveyor with the Baltimore City Survey and Control Department.

"He was a devoted family man and spoke often about his wife and son," said Phil Buddemeyer, John Dembeck's supervisor. "He was a great worker and handled all the work in the office. We will really miss him."

Last night, firefighters went door to door in the community handing out smoke detector information.

"This is obviously a fire in which a smoke detector would have a made a difference," Hubbard said.

Pub Date: 11/13/96

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