Woman dies after blaze in Columbia

February 15, 2007|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,sun reporter

An 84-year-old woman who was burned over 70 percent of her body in a fire at a Columbia assisted-living facility died early yesterday at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Southeast Baltimore, Howard County fire and rescue officials said.

The fire started Tuesday evening in Miriam G. Rappoport's efficiency apartment at Sunrise Assisted Living, next to Hickory Ridge Village Center on Freetown Road.

Meghan Lublin, a spokeswoman for the facility's Virginia-based owner, Sunrise Senior Living, said that once the smoke detector alerted neighboring residents, staff members immediately tried to enter the apartment, but the smoke was too heavy.

The unit's sprinklers kicked in, which helped firefighters extinguish the blaze within about 10 minutes after they arrived at 6:48 p.m. They had been called to the scene seven minutes earlier.

Firefighters found Rappoport sitting in a chair, said Bill Mould, a spokesman for the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services.

Rappoport had lived at Sunrise since 1999, Lublin said.

When firefighters arrived, Rappoport was struggling to breathe. Firefighters took her to Howard County General Hospital to stabilize her before moving her to Bayview's burn unit.

The fire caused $25,000 to $35,000 in damage, mostly from the activated sprinkler system. Five other residents had to be moved into other apartments in the buildling.

"There was minimal fire damage, even to the victim's unit," Mould said.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation yesterday. There was no stove in the unit, and the victim was not a known smoker.

Rappoport's is the first fire death in Howard County since 2004.

melissa.harris@baltsun.com

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