Elderly couple killed in Arundel as their house is destroyed by fire

November 05, 1997|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

An elderly Crownsville couple died in a one-alarm fire early yesterday that consumed their small frame house in the 900 block of Waterbury Heights Road.

Louise and Levi Russell, 83 and 79, were pronounced dead at the scene. They were the fourth and fifth county residents killed in fires this year.

Anne Arundel County fire officials were investigating yesterday the cause of the blaze, which began in an enclosed porch at the front of the house that had been turned into a bedroom.

Fire officials said the house was a total loss, but they had no damage estimates.

Neighbors said they were saddened by the deaths of the couple, who had lived in the house for at least two decades. They said that by the time anyone knew of the fire, it was too late to help.

"We could smell the smoke in the house," said Martha Tyler, who lives across the street from the Russell home. "My daughter opened the curtains and saw the flames. They were as high as the trees. There was nothing nobody could do to get them out."

County EMS/Fire/Rescue spokesman Capt. Allan Graves said firefighters received the call about 4 a.m. When the first firefighters arrived moments later, the house was engulfed in flames.

Firefighters found Russell's body in a chair in his bedroom, where the blaze began. His wife's body was near a window in the kitchen at the rear of the house. She apparently was trying to climb out, fire officials said.

There were no smoke detectors in the one-story house.

Neighbors said the couple, known as Russell and Ms. Louise, were friendly and kind.

Mrs. Russell was to have joined a senior citizens' group for a sewing class yesterday, a neighbor said.

Pub Date: 11/05/97

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