By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun
9:55 PM EDT, April 24, 2013
One man is dead and a volunteer firefighter was in critical condition after a three-alarm fire tore through a home in Reisterstown early Wednesday morning, according to the Baltimore County Fire Department.
Steven Starr, 58, of the first block of Hanover Road, was found in an upstairs hallway of the home, which has multiple apartments, during an intense search-and-rescue effort, said Capt. Rich Schenning, a department spokesman.
Starr, whose son described him as a big Baltimore sports fan who could often be found on the home's porch with a cup of coffee, was found in cardiac arrest and transported to Northwest Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead, Schenning said.
Firefighters swarmed the area following a distress call from the local volunteer department. Four other occupants of the home were able to escape.
Gene Kirchner, 25, a seven-year veteran firefighter with the Reisterstown Volunteer Fire Company, was among the first responders to the home shortly after 1 a.m. when the heavy fire overwhelmed him and other volunteers, Schenning said.
"One of the firefighters declared what they call a 'mayday,' which means they're in trouble," Schenning said.
When a special county response team arrived, firefighters found Kirchner injured and unconscious on the home's second floor, Schenning said.
Kirchner was resuscitated at the scene and transported to Northwest Hospital Center before being transferred to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was listed in critical condition Wednesday morning, Schenning said.
Firefighters conducting a secondary search of the home located Starr, Schenning said.
About 70 firefighters responded to the blaze, which took them until after 4 a.m. to bring under control, Schenning said.
One of two cats present in the home at the time of the fire was found dead at the scene.
Brady Starr, Steven Starr's son, said Wednesday that the "world lost a bright light" with the passing of his father, who loved music and whose "humor and wisdom" will be greatly missed.
"His world revolved around his two sons, music and Baltimore sports," said Brady Starr, whose brother's name is Dylan.
"His dream came true when the Ravens won the Super Bowl, and he went to sleep happy that the Orioles won [Tuesday] night," his son said. "He was a fixture on the front porch of his house, sipping coffee and sharing deep conversations with anyone who stopped by."
The investigation into the fire is ongoing, and involves both Baltimore County police and officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives, which Schenning said is standard procedure for fires involving firefighter injury.
Investigators had found no sign of foul play as of Wednesday afternoon. The home did have smoke detectors, but investigators have yet to determine if they were operational.
No estimate on the extensive damage to the home was immediately available.
Starr had previously been identified with a different last name due to initial confusion among investigators.
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