House fire injures couple

cause attributed to children

Youngsters were playing with lighter, officials say

heater sparks separate fire

Brooklyn Park

January 23, 2003|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

Children playing with a lighter ignited a fire yesterday afternoon that injured their parents, killed the family dog and caused about $200,000 in damage, Anne Arundel County firefighters said.

"It's an often-told lesson that we keep learning the hard way," said Lt. Frank Fennell, a spokesman for the county Fire Department.

That blaze was one of two Brooklyn Park fires yesterday that destroyed two separate, single-family homes and resulted in the hospitalization of three firefighters and three residents.

Icy conditions - a result of runoff from the fire hoses - and frigid weather complicated the firefighters' efforts.

In the afternoon fire, firefighters rescued Philip Dorbert, 39, from the roof of his burning home - its entire front was engulfed in flames when they arrived - on Hillside Terrace.

Dorbert had suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was listed in critical condition last night, according to the nursing coordinator.

Firefighters believe Dorbert may have been searching through smoke and flames for his wife and two young children, who he did not realize had escaped through the front door, Fennell said.

When she saw flames in her living room, Christine Dorbert, 36, yelled to alert her husband, who was sleeping upstairs, before fleeing with the children, Fennell said.

The children, a 5-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy, were uninjured. But their mother suffered minor back burns and was taken to Harbor Hospital in Baltimore. She was released late yesterday afternoon.

Firefighters were not able to rescue the family poodle.

The fire began when the two young children, playing with a lighter, lit a piece of paper in the living room, firefighters believe. Flames spread quickly, and soon the living room was filled with smoke.

Firefighters consider the house, valued at $140,000, a total loss and estimate that $70,000 in contents also were destroyed.

Hours earlier, about 50 firefighters battled a morning fire on Zeppelin Avenue that was caused by an electric space heater left too close to a piece of furniture.

Addrick McClure, 50, the home's owner and resident, was critically injured. A child who lives in the home was at school at the time.

McClure was treated for smoke inhalation and was listed in critical condition last night at Shock Trauma, a nursing coordinator there said.

Firefighters estimate the blaze caused $150,000 in damage.

The child was in the care of grandparents last night, fire officials said.

"All of the portable heaters have inherent danger, so it's very important to keep them away from anything that can burn," Fennell said.

Firefighters had the morning fire under control in about 30 minutes. Capt. William Hamer was treated for minor burns to his face, and firefighter Rodney Brittingham was treated for exhaustion and dehydration at North Arundel Hospital.

The afternoon blaze drew 46 firefighters and took an hour to extinguish.

Firefighter Joseph King, who injured his back during the operation, also was taken to North Arundel Hospital.

All three injured firefighters had been released from the hospital last night, fire officials said.

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