A man and a woman were found dead in a home that went up in flames Thursday night in Sykesville, according to a State Fire Marshal spokeswoman.
The blaze burned a “historical property” in the 900 block of Raincliffe Road, according to Emily Witty, public information officer for the Office of the State Fire Marshal. Maryland Historical Trust paperwork from 2004 refers to the house as the Dorsey House and estimates it was built around 1870.
Authorities did not find any smoke detectors in the house, Witty said. There is “unfortunately, a huge increase in likelihood of not surviving a fire if you’re not alerted in time to be able to get out,” she said.
Nelson Bolton, who lives in the Raincliffe Venture Manor beside the burned house, told the Times, “As far as I know, they had smoke detectors.”
The victims, who were not identified by Friday evening, were a man and a woman, according to a fire marshal news release. The victims were sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to be identified, Witty said.
The body of a dog was also found in the house, according to the Sykesville Freedom District Fire Department.
The first victim was found on the first floor of the two-story single-family home, according to Witty. The extent of damage delayed firefighters in finding the second victim, she said.
The Sykesville fire department tweeted that it found one victim on a stairway and the other on the second floor of the home.
Bolton said in an interview he’d gone upstairs to go to bed and “saw this huge glow to our south.” He opened the curtains and the house was “ablaze,” he said. His son then called 911.
The Dorsey House, which was being used as a caretaker’s residence, was about 25 feet from the mansion, in the back of the property, Bolton said.
The State Fire Marshal was called to the scene shortly after firefighters arrived, according to Witty. Firefighters were dispatched a little after 9 p.m., Witty said.
The cause of the fire is unknown.
“Currently our investigation is to determine that, the origin and the cause,” Witty said Friday morning. “It’s an older property. There’s many sources that it could have come from.”
Investigation thus far does not suggest arson was the cause, Witty said. The release states there were numerous portable heaters in use at the time of the fire.
The house did not have a furnace and was heated by a pellet stove, according to Bolton, and the chimneys were in “good shape." Bolton said he has been the curator of the Raincliffe mansion for 35 years.
The Sykesville fire department tweeted that crews knocked out the fire in less than 30 minutes.
There were no injuries to firefighters, according to Witty.
Damage to the home is “pretty extensive, but it’s not a total loss,” Witty said.
The outside is intact, but the windows are gone and the interior is burned, according to Witty.
A 1979 inventory form filed by the Maryland Historical Trust states that the Maryland Department of Natural Resources owns the property.
“The staff of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is deeply saddened by the loss of life at the Raincliffe Road property,” DNR spokesman Gregg Bortz said in a statement Friday evening. “The Raincliffe House complex was added to the department’s Resident Curatorship Program in 1984. This program offers lifetime residency of a state-owned historic property, in exchange for the curator being responsible for restoration and all maintenance and upkeep.”
Bortz deferred further questions to the state fire marshal.