House fire was an accident, authorities say

Children were burning paper outside mansion


March 16, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A fire that destroyed a Clarksville mansion Friday, causing an estimated $6.7 million in damage, started accidentally, according to Howard County fire officials.

William E. Mould, a Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services spokesman, confirmed reports that the fire in the home of developer Frederick W. Kunkle Jr. in the 12700 block of Maryvale Court started after several children were burning paper outside the home.

Mould would not provide any information about the children.

A spark ignited material in the garage about 5 p.m., Mould said, and the fire moved rapidly into the house, particularly into the attic space. The wood-frame house with a brick front had an estimated 28,000 square feet of living space.

"The home was relatively new," Mould said. The family had lived in it for a few months.

"It was the most beautiful home you've ever seen," said Trudy Bamber, a neighbor. "They just moved in."

She said residents on the cul-de-sac, which includes houses of varying ages on 4- to 5-acre wooded lots, had watched the house being built for two years.

When the fire was raging, "It was very emotional. We all stood there in shock," said Bamber. "Neighbors on the street are very upset."

The semirural neighborhood has no fire hydrants, so firefighters relied on tanker trucks to deliver water to the site, Mould said.

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