NORTH EAST — Investigators are blaming a malfunctioning electric water heater for triggering a blaze that caused damage inside a North East-area home over the weekend, according to the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal.

One of the occupants of the residence in the unit block of Old Zion Road called 911 at 8:33 a.m. Saturday, after discovering the blaze, fire officials reported.

Approximately 20 firefighters with area volunteer fire companies battled the fire for about 20 minutes, before bringing it under control, fire officials said. North East Volunteer Fire Co. served as the on-scene command unit, fire officials added.

The blaze did not cause any structural damage, but it did destroy approximately $1,000 in property inside the residence, according to Sr. Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver J. Alkire, who identified the owner/occupant as Niccola Lagano.

MOSFM detectives determined that the blaze started inside the basement, where the water heater was located, fire officials said. The investigators concluded that an “unspecified failure with the electric water heater” sparked the fire, and they listed “accidental” as the cause, fire officials added.

Smoke alarms inside the residence did not function during the fire, according to Alkire, who further reported, “The owner was provided a smoke alarm, after fire department personnel discovered the dwelling was without working smoke alarms.”

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