Despite a historical low in fire fatalities statewide, four Harford County residents died in fires this past year, up slightly from the two previous years.
The county lost three people in fires in 2011 as well as 2010, Deputy State Fire Marshal Bruce Bouch said Thursday.
Bouch, who is with the fire safety and education division of the State Fire Marshal's Office, said Maryland overall has had its lowest number of fire-related fatalities in recorded history last year.
All of Harford's fatal fires took place in the fall and winter months, and two of the victims were elderly men, who were alone in their homes. A third older male victim, in his 50s, had medical issues that may have contributed to his death, investigators have said.
The fourth victim was a 5-year-old boy, who died in a townhouse fire in which other family members escaped.
First fatality early in 2012
The first fatal fire of 2012 occurred two weeks after the year started, in the Long Bar Harbor area of Abingdon on Jan. 14.
That fire killed 88-year-old John Youngblood, who lived alone. He died as a result of heart failure from experiencing fire and smoke conditions in his second floor bedroom, according to the State Fire Marshal's Office.
The fire was deemed to be electrical, originating in a bedroom, Bouch said. Investigators said the home had working smoke detectors that activated.
The second fatal fire took place on Oct. 26, in which a 5-year-old Edgewood boy died in the 1400 block of Charlestown Drive.
The boy was killed after the townhouse caught fire from something in the basement. The boy's father escaped, along with the victim's 2-year-old sister.
The cause of that fire remains undetermined, Bouch said.
According to fire investigators, the Charlestown Drive home had working smoke detectors that activated.
Two weeks apart
The county's last two fatal fires of 2012 were both in the final month of the year and occurred a week apart, on Dec. 6 and 13.
A 52-year-old Pylesville man died from smoke inhalation on Dec. 6 from what was determined to be a "minor" electrical fire in his bedroom, according to the Fire Marshal's Office.
Sheldon "Sam" Deller, was killed when a fire broke out in the first floor bedroom of his home in the 5000 block of West Heaps Road. The 12:41 p.m. fire caused $200 damage to the two-story, wood frame dwelling, according to the State Fire Marshal's Office. The home is a block from the Norrisville
Investigators from the Maryland State Police and the Fire Marshal's Office said Mr. Deller's pre-existing medical condition may have prevented him from escaping from the home.
According to the Fire Marshal's Office, three other members of Mr. Deller's family were on the second floor watching television, while he slept in his room. The victim's sister discovered heavy smoke throughout the house and alerted the others who were upstairs. Two family members tried to rescue Mr. Deller but were unsuccessful, investigators said afterward.