Child blamed in one fire, faulty heater in another

January 26, 2007|By Anica Butler | Anica Butler,Sun Reporter

A child playing with matches set the fire last month that displaced 40 people and caused $1.5 million damage at an Annapolis apartment complex, while a second fire days later on Main Street probably was sparked by a faulty heater, the city Fire Department said yesterday.

The three-alarm blaze Dec. 13 at the Admiral Farragut Apartments on Hilltop Lane started in a closet of a first-floor apartment, according to the Fire Department. Residents tried to extinguish it before calling 911, and the fire spread further as they left a door open when they fled outside, said Capt. Ed Hadaway, a department spokesman.

Firefighters rescued at least eight people; a woman and her infant daughter, both suffering from smoke inhalation, were taken to a hospital. Eight apartments were heavily damaged by fire, and eight others had smoke and water damage, he said.

Hadaway said it was less clear how the second fire started at 2:40 a.m. Dec. 18 at 149 Main St., home of the Chesapeake Trading Company, a store that sold clothing, books, jewelry and other items. The investigation pointed to a ceiling-mounted electric heater, he said.

The second floor, which was being used for storage, bore the brunt of the fire. Smoke and water ruined a portion of the merchandise on the first floor. Damage was estimated at $250,000.

The building, like many older structures on Main Street, was not equipped with sprinklers. Two Annapolis aldermen have since introduced bills that would require sprinklers in new homes, existing structures that undergo major renovations and all commercial buildings in the Historic District.

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