Smoke alarms were in the home but the batteries had been removed
Hagerstown, Md. – The Office of the State Fire Marshal, in conjunction with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, is continuing their investigation into the circumstances surrounding a house fire that claimed the life of a Hagerstown man.
At approximately 4:38 p.m. on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, Halfway Volunteer Fire Company responded to a reported house fire located in the 17500 block of York Road in Hagerstown. Firefighters arrived to find the victim’s family, reporting they had come to the home to check on the homeowner’s well-being. Family members stated that they encountered light smoke when they opened the home’s front door and called 911.
After a preliminary origin and cause investigation, Deputy State Fire Marshals have determined the fire originated in the home’s living room. While the exact cause of the fire remains under investigation at this time, investigators are not ruling out the potential that unsafe smoking practices are a contributing factor. While official identification and cause of death are pending an autopsy, the victim is believed to be the 56-year-old homeowner.
Deputy State Fire Marshals believe the owner woke up and attempted to extricate himself from the home before succumbing to smoke inhalation. Investigators determined smoke alarms were present; however, the batteries had been removed.
Citizens are reminded it is always best to smoke outdoors and ensure all smoking materials are properly extinguished. State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci stated, “Citizens should always refrain from smoking when tired or under the influence of alcohol or medications that make you drowsy.”
The victim will be transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore to determine the exact cause of death and where he will be positively identified.