Fire heavily damages Columbia house

Neighbor walking her dog discovers flames, calls 911

December 01, 2004|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

Howard County fire officials are investigating the cause of a fire that started yesterday morning in an east Columbia house a half-hour after a resident left for work.

Damage to the split-level home of Michael and Donna Hayman, in the 6200 block of Tamar Drive, was estimated at $375,000, including the structure and contents, said Fire Department spokesman Bill Mould.

The fire, which investigators ruled was accidental, started 30 minutes after Donna Hayman left for work.

Barbara Moore, a neighbor, said she was leaving her house to walk her dog shortly after 9 a.m. when she saw smoke, and, knowing the Haymans were not home, went to investigate. "I saw flames shooting out of the front window," Moore said.

She called 911, and firefighters arrived from the Long Reach station a few blocks north, followed by units from as far away as Savage.

The fire, which appeared to have started in the living room, had spread to a quarter of the house when the first firefighters arrived, officials said. The blaze was quickly extinguished, though a towering plume of black smoke briefly drifted hundreds of feet into the sky.

Two young dogs and a cat named Chelsea escaped the flames, but most of the interior of the house, including a recently remodeled kitchen, was badly damaged, fire officials and the Haymans said.

No one was injured. Siding melted in places on the front and side walls, and a large bush outside was partially burned.

Odette Arthen, another neighbor, went outside after her son Glen, 7, heard sirens. She said she saw the Haymans' dogs jump onto a rear deck and run off until someone corralled them in a nearby yard.

Yesenia Cruz, who moved next door to the Haymans six months ago to one of four houses that share a large driveway, said she heard popping noises, like glass breaking, and saw the flames when she went outside.

A tearful Donna Hayman arrived about 10:15 a.m. and hugged a county police officer who helped secure her dogs while her husband searched nearby yards for their cat.

"What happened? I left at 8:30 this morning," she said, telling firefighters all was well then.

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