Fire investigators conducted a forensic examination and determined the fire originated in an overloaded electrical outlet. The fire smothered itself out but not before releasing heavy smoke and carbon monoxide.

Norrisville Volunteer Fire Company was at the home four days before the fire and had placed five new smoke alarms throughout the home, but not in Mr. Deller's room, according to the Fire Marshal's Office.

86-year-old dies

The victim of Harford's last fatal fire of 2012 was 86-year-old George Scott, who died early on the morning of Dec. 13 in his home in the 4000 block of U Way in the Webster Village community near Havre de Grace.

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Mr. Scott's body was found in a second floor bedroom of the two-story, Cape Cod style house that was built in 1950.

Mr. Scott, who was the sole occupant of the house, died from smoke inhalation and thermal injuries, according to fire investigators. The cause of that fire is still undetermined.

Working smoke alarms were in the first floor of the home, but no evidence of the devices was found on the second floor, the Fire Marshal's Office said the day following the fire.

State sets record

Although Maryland had only 52 deaths in fires last year, the lowest number in recorded history, Harford's recent record of fire fatalities has been more problematic.

In addition to the four deaths last year and three each in 2010 and 2011, there was one fire death in the county in 2008 and nine in 2007. There were no deaths in 2009.

"We don't want to see any fatal fires," Rich Gardiner, spokesman for the Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association, said Thursday. "The number has been kind of holding steady at three or four per year."

Across the state, meanwhile, fatalities have been consistently falling from 94 in 2007.

"We're trending downwards overall," Bouch, of the State Fire Marshal's Office, said about Maryland's fatal fires.

He attributed a general decrease in fatalities to education efforts.

"Everybody is getting news in different ways but for people who don't get papers, for instance, they are still going online and getting things," Bouch said. "The information is getting out there."

Gardiner said many fire fatalities have a close correlation with the fire's origin and cause and the time of day the fire occurs.

"The biggest issue is the smoke detector issue," he said, adding that the county's new ordinance requiring sprinklers in new single family homes also "gives people an out."