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No smoke alarms in Essex fire that killed mother, daughter

Baltimore County police have identified the victims of a fatal fire Monday in Essex as a mother and daughter. Carolyn Lee Himmelheber, 63, and Stacy Lynn Himmelheber, 40, both lived at the rowhouse in the 900 block of Arncliffe Road in the Middlesex neighborhood.

Investigators estimate that the fire caused $25,000 of damage to the two-story brick residence, originally owned by Carolyn Himmelheber's parents. The women had lived there nearly all their lives. The home was not equipped with smoke detectors, investigators said.

Neighbors reported seeing smoke from the back of the home. When fire crews arrived about 7:30 p.m., they found neighbors and police trying unsuccessfully to get inside. Firefighters also experienced some problems getting into the first floor and then moving around inside.

"There were a lot of belongings inside the home, making it initially difficult for firefighters to navigate," said Elise Armacost, spokeswoman for the county Fire Department. "All those materials become fuel during a fire and will generate a lot of smoke."

The two women were found upstairs. One victim was taken to Franklin Square Hospital and the other to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center; both were pronounced dead at the hospitals. Two dogs and two cats also died in the fire.

Police said the women had been involved in a minor traffic accident earlier Monday on Arncliffe Road. The mother had been treated and released from Franklin Square Hospital.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Friend and neighbor Joyce Page, 73, said Carolyn Himmelheber had recently lost her job in an insurance claims office.

mary.gail.hare@baltsun.com

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