Woodbine man killed in two-alarm blaze

Roof, second floor fall in before firefighters arrive, official says

Regional

January 09, 2001|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

The body of a 45-year-old Woodbine man who was using a wheelchair was found yesterday in the rubble of a pre-Civil War log house destroyed in a two-alarm fire Sunday night, authorities said.

Investigators recovered the body of Jesse V. Ridgely about 12:30 p.m. after rubble from the collapsed structure was cool enough to search. Ridgely, who had a muscular disorder since birth, lived alone, said his sister, Laura Scott, who lives next door in the 5700 block of Bethel Road, off Gillis Road.

"They had a tough time finding the man in all the rubble," said Allen Gosnell, public information officer for the state fire marshal's office.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation yesterday afternoon. Firefighters did not have a damage estimate.

Dave Morgan, public information officer for Winfield Community Volunteer Fire Company, said the roof and second floor had collapsed by the time firefighters arrived, just before 9:30 p.m.

"We went to a defensive mode; there was no way we could go in, it was so hot, even from the outside," Morgan said.

But he said several family members at the scene confirmed a man was in the home.

Firefighters returned to the scene from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. yesterday to help search for Ridgely. They found the body on the first floor, Morgan said.

"We think it was the living room, he was laying on his back on the floor, a few feet from some steps," Morgan said.

Scott said she and her brother grew up in the log house on the family-owned farm on a narrow, winding dirt road.

"It was nice," she said. "He lived alone there since our father died four years ago."

Scott said she first noticed something was amiss when she saw a vehicle flashing its lights pass by. Her family went outside and saw the fire. She called 911, but apparently two neighbors had already called. The fire was reported about 9:15 p.m.

"When we got there, the fire department was already there and [the house] was fully engulfed," Scott said.

The first firefighters to arrive almost immediately called for a second alarm about 9:30 p.m.

Units from Winfield, Mount Airy, Sykesville, Gamber, and Lisbon and West Friendship in Howard County, remained on the scene for more than six hours.

Deputy fire marshals, detectives from the Maryland State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are continuing the investigation.

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