A workman was part of crew that began removing parts of the burned house on Alletta Avenue in Lansdowne Sept. 12. The work was in preparation to level the building, which suffered extensive damage from a fire Aug. 25 in which a woman died and her son was badly injured. (Photo by Noah Scialom, Patuxent Publishing / September 12, 2011)

The first steps to demolish what remains of a burned Lansdowne house in which a woman died began this week.

Siding littered the yard of the house in the 2200 block of Alletta Avenue that burned down Aug. 25 and a blue tarp covered the front of the building on Sept. 12 as workers picked apart the house ravaged by a one-alarm fire.

The fire killed 90-year-old Edna McCann, injured her 60-year-old son, Bobby, and caused an estimated $100,000 in damages.

Linda Gentry, McCann's niece, watched as the crews worked.


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Nearly four weeks after the fire broke out, Gentry was still visibly emotional about the event.

"We knew she was getting up in age. And we knew the time was short to have with her," Gentry, 63, said. "We could accept that. It was just the way we had to lose her. So much pain for all of us."

Gentry, a resident of Tilghman Island on the Eastern Shore, said it is still unclear what started the fire, but so much damage was done that the house needed to be demolished in sections.

She said McCann died of smoke inhalation and that her cousin was still in the hospital recovering from the burns he received and a subsequent heart surgery to remove two blockages at the top of his heart.

"She and uncle Bob got married on the 26th of April (in 1948), and they had the reception here at the house," said Gentry, who added McCann's husband died about 10 years ago. "They left around midnight and I was born three hours later (in the house)."

Gentry fondly recalled McCann always offering food when she walked through the doors.

"If it was lunch, it would have to be a big lunch, something she baked," Gentry said. "She was quite the homemaker and, boy, could she bake."

"Christmas time was the most special time to come in there. She was the Christmas decorator," Gentry said. "At 85, 90 years old, she could decorate a Christmas tree like nothing you'd ever seen.

"That was a big thing for us from when we were children. You'd walk in the front door of that porch and there'd be that tree."