HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — The Hagerstown Fire Department has already initiated an extensive investigation into a house fire that killed three people and injured two others on Wednesday night.
Hagerstown Fire Chief Steve Lohr told WDVM that the two people who were transported to Meritus Medical Center have received treatment and have been released. One person was an occupant of the home who escaped and the other was a volunteer firefighter who was transported for a medical evaluation.
Firefighters were unable to save the house on Linganore Avenue in Hagerstown’s West Side. Investigators have deemed the house a total loss, and the structure was condemned as workers were seen boarding up the structure on Thursday afternoon.
Chief Lohr also said that investigators are still working to learn how many occupants were inside of the home. The identities of the deceased have not yet been released.
“It’s probably going to be more than a minute until we figure what did happen last night,” Chief Lohr said. “An extensive investigation is underway with multiple agencies including the Hagerstown Police Department, Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office, Department of Emergency Services, and the lead agency, our own Hagerstown Fire Department.”
Neighbors are still shaken up after witnessing the tragedy unfold. Charles Madden was walking his dog when he saw the fire tearing through the house.
“I was walking on West Side Avenue and I seen like a flame and it looked like the houses up there [on Salem Avenue] was on fire because the fire was so big,” Madden said.” So I put the dog in and when I came down here, it was engulfed. All I see was the flame. You couldn’t even see the house and I feel sorry for the people. That’s all.”
Wanda Roberts also lives near the area and was trying to get to home when she saw the flames.
“I was driving through and they had this road blocked off so I parked my car and I walked up and the house was on fire,” Roberts said. “I seen them bring a body bag out with a person in it. It was terrifying because you can imagine if that would happen to you or one of your relations how you would feel.”
Chief Lohr also hopes that this tragedy serves as a reminder to the community to do what you can to prevent fires. He stressed that people should regularly check their smoke alarms as an early alert is “your best defense to get out of a fire like we experienced last night.”
He also wants to remind people that after exiting the building, you should get as far away from the fire and do not attempt to re-enter the building. Chief Lohr stressed that people must notify the fire department at the earliest opportunity possible so they can respond as quickly as possible.
The Hagerstown Fire Department will be out in the community near Linganore Avenue for their “After the Fire” program to check in with residents. Chief Lohr says that firefighters will also help residents check and, if necessary, install new smoke alarms.