Family devastated by sparkler fire

Four teens charged in fireworks home blaze

July 02, 2002|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

A Harford County family of four combed through the charred remains of their suburban home yesterday while the state fire marshal's office charged four teen-agers with malicious destruction of property in the fire Saturday.

"You can't even imagine the devastation," Patricia Ozarowski said, looking at her blackened possessions strewn on the driveway. "All I wanted was my son."

Fire officials said the fire began after the teens threw a ground sparkler from their car near the home in the 2900 block of Craigston Lane in Abingdon. Damages were estimated at $225,000.

"They lit it inside the car, panicked and threw the device, which landed in the shrubbery in front of the home, subsequently resulting in the major fire," said Bob Thomas, chief deputy fire marshal.

The Ozarowskis' son, Tom Bowers, 17, was the only one at home when the fire broke out. Neighbors pounded on the door, alerting Bowers, who escaped unharmed.

"My son actually had nothing but a pair of shorts," Patricia Ozarowski said.

The family had just arrived Saturday in Ocean City when they received the call that their house was on fire.

"We never unpacked anything," Patricia Ozarowski said. "We just left."

They returned to find their home destroyed. The whole front of the house was scorched. The aluminum siding was ripped off. Shrubs were burned, and heat from the fire melted portions of the family's blue Volkswagen in the driveway.

Michelle Knight, 14, a neighbor from across the street, was awakened by fire engine sirens.

"The whole thing was in flames," said Knight, a friend of the Ozarowskis' daughter, Christi Bowers, 14. "They were just taking all the stuff out."

Neighbors have helped.

"There was a million neighbors coming with food and money and everything; it was just unbelievable," Patricia Ozarowski said. Two little girls walked the neighborhood with buckets collecting cash.

Of the four teens charged, one of the boys and one of the girls is 17 and the other boy and girl are 15. The youth who is accused of throwing the firework was charged with reckless endangerment, Thomas said.

Thomas Ozarowski, 39, said he is angry.

"I definitely have animosity toward them," he said. "I hope they've realized what they've done."

Patricia Ozarowski, 37, doesn't believe the fire was random. One of the teens involved was the brother of her son's ex-girlfriend. "The chances of them accidentally coming to our house and accidentally starting the fire seems a little strange," she said.

The family is staying in Baltimore with Patricia Ozarowski's mother. They hope to be back in the house by the end of the year, Patricia Ozarowski said.

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