Aberdeen fire displaces six families

December 25, 2006|By Laura McCandlish and Arin Gencer | Laura McCandlish and Arin Gencer,Sun reporters

Two police officers were treated for smoke inhalation after helping rescue people from an apartment house in downtown Aberdeen early yesterday, state and Harford County fire officials said.

Close to a dozen people escaped the fire without injury, but a pet dog died in the fire, the officials said.

A passer-by reported the fire at 15 S. Rogers St. shortly before 5 a.m. Two Aberdeen police officers - Sgt. Albert Severn, 47, and Patrolman First Class Christopher Reiber, 30 - arrived before firefighters, and began rescue efforts, said Rich Gardiner, chief spokesman for the Harford County Fire Department, and Joseph Zurolo, a deputy state fire marshal.

The fire broke out in a first-floor hallway of the three-story Holly Tree Apartments, fire officials said. The police rescued a baby from a first-floor apartment, while county firefighters helped a woman get out from the second floor, Gardiner said.

A neighbor also rescued a woman and her child, who were dangling from a metal-chain ladder attached to their third-story apartment window, Gardiner said. They had climbed halfway down the ladder, which did not reach the ground, but proved a lifesaver, Gardiner said.

The fire destroyed the building's interior and contents, he said.

The front door and most windows were gone, and the doorway and first-floor shutters were charred yesterday evening. A pink-and-white toy riding jeep sat on the front porch, with some burned lawn chairs, and a decorative gingerbread man could be seen in a second-floor window.

The six displaced families were spending Christmas Eve in a hotel, where they were placed by the regional Red Cross, said Linnea Anderson, a spokeswoman for the agency. Some community groups reached out to the victims, she added, bringing them gifts.

"We've also gotten calls from people in the community who want to help them," Anderson said.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation, and damage was initially estimated at $350,000, Zurolo said.

The police officers were treated at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center and released by early afternoon, officials said.

laura.mccandlish@baltsun.com arin.gencer@baltsun.com

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