Fire Officials Say Sprinklers Made A Life Or Death Difference In A Fire In Cumberland

One person suffered burns to her body.,



Cumberland, Md (KM) Fire officials have long emphasized how sprinklers in a home or other buildings  can save lives, and here’s an example.

The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office says Thursday night in Cumberland, fire fighters were dispatched to the Cumberland Arms Apartments, 10 North Liberty Street, for an automatic alarm and a water flow alarm on the 5th floor of the 6-story building.

When they arrived, they went to the 5th floor and found an elderly man and his wife outside of an apartment unit. She had burns to her body. They saw smoke and water coming from the  apartment. Upon entry, fire fighters saw a  fire contained to a chair after the sprinkler system activated. .

Authorities say Roberta Barb, 82, was sitting in a chair when her electric blanket ignited. Her husband, Ronald Barb, also 82, had gone out to get dinner. When he returned home, he saw water coming from his apartment, and encountered heavy smoke when he entered. Mr. Barb was able to carry his wife out of the apartment and into the hallway. Mrs. Barb cannot walk due to a medical condition.

Because of her burn injuries, she was taken to Western Maryland Regional Center by ambulance, and later transported to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Burn Center. Mrs. Barb is listed in critical but stable condition with first- and second-degree burns, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Deputy Fire Marshals say the sprinkler system contained the fire to the chair, limiting damage to $5,000. Several floor under the apartment building sustained water damage, fire officials say.

Investigators say the cause and origin of the fire was  the electric blanket, which failed, which ignited Mrs. Barb’s clothing and the chair. .


By Kevin McManus