Investigators believe a fire that damaged a house in the Bel Air area Wednesday morning was caused by a sump pump malfunction.
An occupant of the house in the 700 block of Burnside Drive, in the Fountain Green area, was taken to a local hospital suffering from smoke inhalation, according to fire personnel at the scene.
The fire in the one-story, single-family home owned by Walter and Mary Mitchell was reported at 8:17 a.m., according to Deputy State Fire Marshall Oliver Alkire.
Multiple area fire companies responded and brought the fire under control. They were still on the scene at 9:30 a.m.
Alkire, who was at the scene preparing to go inside to try and determine specifically where and how the fire started, said it appeared to have started in the basement of the ranch style house.
The fire was caused by a mechanical failure of the sump pump in the basement of the home, according to a notice of investigation from the Office of the State Fire Marshal issued Wednesday afternoon.
The fire was contained to the basement with extensive soot and water damage throughout the house, investigators said.
Mary Mitchell, 83, who lives in house with her husband, was home alone when a father and son passing by noticed smoke coming from the basement, according to the notice of investigation. One of them called 911 and the other knocked on the door to notify the female resident of the fire.
Mitchell’s husband was in Bel Air, according to Alkire.
Mary Mitchell was taken by ambulance from Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company to University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air suffering from minor smoke inhalation, Alkire said.
About 30 firefighters from volunteer companies in Bel Air, Abingdon, Level and Joppa-Magnolia responded.
The fire caused an estimated $50,000 damage to the home and $50,000 damage to the contents, according to the notice.