A Pleasant Valley man died Sunday night after he first escaped a fire in his home, then reentered the house before rescue personnel arrived in an attempt to save a number of pets, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
Ronald Joy, 62, was found inside the home and removed by emergency personnel Sunday night but was pronounced dead after being transported to Carroll Hospital, the state fire marshal confirmed Monday.
Joy’s wife, Kathy Joy, 52, escaped the blaze, and was in stable condition at the hospital as of Monday afternoon.
The fire in the 2700 block of Littlestown Pike started just before 2:30 p.m., Sunday, according to the Pleasant Valley Community Fire Company; the blaze was under control before 3 p.m.
Five dogs and an unknown number of cats were in the home at the time of the blaze. State fire marshal spokesperson Oliver Alkire said animal hoarding can contribute to a fire’s intensity and hinders firefighters’ ability to make a rescue.
“There were hoarding conditions within the home,” Alkire said, “so that greatly hindered our ability to locate all of the animals. We’re not really sure at this time how many total cats there were. The owner was unfamiliar with how many total cats there were, so we’re not sure.”
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Firefighters gave aid, including oxygen, to rescued pets, said Charles Simpson, a spokesperson for the Pleasant Valley Community Fire Company. Animal Control officials rounded up multiple animals.
About 30 firefighters from more than a dozen stations responded to the fire. A second alarm was called to bring four more fire engines, two tanker trucks and an additional ambulance to the scene, Simpson said.
“Because it’s outside the city, it’s a non-hydrant area. The biggest issue is getting the water there and additional manpower to secure the incident,” Simpson said. “It became two specific incidents. One was fighting the fire and one was performing the search.”
A state fire marshal investigation concluded that the fire originated in the home’s primary bathroom. Although smoke alarms were present, it has not been determined if they activated. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Property damage is estimated at $150,000, according to the state fire marshal’s office.
“This tragic incident is a heartbreaking but real example of why going back inside doesn’t guarantee that you and your family will make it back alive,” State Fire Marshal Brian Geraci said in a news release. “Get out, stay out. Have working smoke alarms and an escape plan in place.”