Stove, furnace are ruled out as cause of fire

October 10, 2001|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Baltimore County fire investigators have determined that neither the kitchen stove nor the furnace sparked the blaze in a Dundalk apartment that killed a mother and four daughters Sept. 28.

Relatives of Michele Ferguson, the mother, said after the fire that she had been using to stove to heat the house -- in the 6800 block of Dunbar Road -- because the furnace wasn't working properly.

But Capt. Glenn Blackwell, a department spokesman, said yesterday that investigators "know the stove top, the oven and the furnace were not involved."

The investigation continues, but officials have also ruled out foul play, Blackwell said.

Ferguson, 38, and daughters, Ina Johnson, 11, India Johnson, 9, Asia Jones, 2, and Ariel Jones, 1, died of smoke inhalation, he said.

The house, owned by Edmund Ogonowski Sr., was part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 8 rent subsidy program. In July, a routine inspection turned up eight housing violations, including lack of a functioning smoke detector on the second floor and problems with the furnace.

A month later, when inspectors found that the deficiencies had not been corrected, the county Department of Social Services offered Ferguson a voucher to move.

She picked up the voucher two days before the fire.

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