Sad pilgrimage to site of tragic fire

Home where 6 died attracts procession of friends, strangers

September 05, 1999|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

It was tragedy that brought traffic to a quiet street in Dundalk yesterday.

Dozens of cars streamed slowly past the burned-out house in the 100 block of Williams Ave., where a couple and their four children died Friday in a two-alarm fire.

Friends and strangers left flowers, stuffed animals and notes at a makeshift memorial for Raymond G. Jamison, 36, his sons Raymond Jamison, 12, and Jacob Jamison, 10; Mr. Jamison's wife Marie, 33, and her two sons from a previous marriage, James McCready, 10, and his 6-year-old brother Brandon.

Battalion Chief Mark Hubbard, a Baltimore County Fire Department spokesman, said autopsies showed that all six members of the family -- who were apparently sleeping at the time of the fire -- died of smoke inhalation.

"It's just so sad," said Nancy Harvey, who came to view the damage and the memorial with her friend, Mike Yuhas Sr., and her 9-year-old granddaughter, Chelsey Plotts.

Fire officials continued yesterday to investigate the cause of the blaze, which began about 4: 30 a.m. Friday.

The house was being renovated, and investigators are trying to determine if the work may have played a part in starting the fire, which is believed to have been accidental. Officials are concentrating their investigation on a first-floor family room.

"We're focusing on that room as the possible point of origin," Hubbard said. "There was significant damage in that room, and that would explain how the fire and smoke raced so quickly upstairs, because the stairs lead up from that room."

James McCready, father of James and Brandon, said he last saw his sons on Tuesday when he brought James a pet lizard. Both boys loved animals, McCready said.

"I was supposed to see them this weekend," McCready said. "I don't know whether I'm coming or going right now."

McCready said a viewing will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow and Tuesday at Connelly Funeral Home of Dundalk, 7110 Sollers Point Road. A Mass of Christian burial will be held for the family at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Sacred Heart of Mary Church, 6736 Youngstown Ave.

Neighbor Joann D'Eugenio said traffic increased on her normally quiet, tree-lined street soon after the fire department left Friday.

"It's been a constant flow, with cars coming as early this morning as 7 or 8 o'clock," said D'Eugenio, whose children played with the Jamison and McCready boys. "You try to talk to your children about it, but you don't know if they really understand what has happened."

Pupils from Norwood Elementary and Holabird Middle schools, which the boys attended, left messages reading "We will miss you" and "We love you" on pieces of paper tucked into a fence in front of the house.

Glen Rhoades, 10, left a small stuffed bear in memory of his classmate, Jacob.

"He was my very good friend," Glen said quietly as he quickly climbed into his mother's car so she could leave and allow other cars to drive down the narrow street.

A Jamison relative, who did not want to be identified, said the family suggested donations be made to the Boy Scouts of America. The elder Jamison often volunteered with Troop 745 in Essex, where his sons were members. Neighbors said he'd taken the boys to a Scout meeting the night before the fire.

Stephanie McQuade lives next door to the Jamison house. The community was struggling with its grief yesterday, McQuade said.

"I think we're all just numb," said McQuade with tears in her eyes. "They were the neighbors from heaven."

A fund has been established for the family. Those wishing to contribute should send money to The Jamison and McCready Family Fund, c/o Provident Bank, Dundalk Office, 39 Shipping Place, Baltimore 21222. Other donations may be made to the Boy Scouts of America in the name of the Jamison and McCready children.

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