NORTH EAST — A blaze destroyed a home in North East on Friday morning, displacing four people and causing approximately $400,000 in damage, according to the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal.
One of the residents called 911 at 6:35 a.m., after the occupants discovered fire inside their home in the unit block of Valley Forge Drive, fire officials reported.
“The occupants discovered the fire and attempted to extinguish it with a portable fire extinguisher. The fire rapidly spread beyond their control and they exited the home,” an MOSFM spokesman said, adding that no one was injured during the incident.
The American Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents — three adults and one child, according to fire officials.
Approximately 40 firefighters with area volunteer fire companies battled the blaze for about 40 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 caused an estimated $250,000 in damage to the one-story house, and it destroyed approximately $150,000 in belongings that were inside the home, according to fire officials.
MOSFM investigators determined that the blaze started inside the master bedroom, fire officials said. They concluded that “combustibles coming into contact with a space heater” caused the fire, which investigators classified as accidental, fire officials added.
Fire officials further reported that, while smoke detectors were present inside the home, they lacked batteries because they had been removed at some point.
In the wake of the Valley Forge Drive house fire, fire officials issued the following advice:
The Office of the State Fire Marshal reminds citizens to have and check smoke alarms every month. If your smoke alarm is more than 10 years old, replace it with a 10-year, sealed, tamper proof smoke alarm. Keep clothing and combustibles away from space heaters and have an escape plan in case of a fire.
Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci commented, “Working smoke alarms are critical to preventing serious injuries and death in the case of a house fire. It only takes a couple of extra minutes to push the test button on a smoke alarm or CO alarm to ensure it’s working. That extra minute or two could save your life one day.”