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Fire officials say the extension damage caused by a three-alarm fatal house fire in the 4000 block of Webster Road in Havre de Grace will make it difficult to pinpoint a cause and origin of the blaze. One person died in the fire, which occurred Wednesday afternoon.
Fire officials say the extension damage caused by a three-alarm fatal house fire in the 4000 block of Webster Road in Havre de Grace will make it difficult to pinpoint a cause and origin of the blaze. One person died in the fire, which occurred Wednesday afternoon. (Erika Butler / Baltimore Sun)

Fire officials are working to determine what started a three-alarm fire near Havre de Grace on left one dead and caused approximately $1 million in damages to the nearly 140-year-old house.

"The damage is extensive which makes determining an origin and cause of a fire difficult to pinpoint,” Emily Witty, a spokeswoman for the Office of the State Fire Marshal, said Thursday.

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The deceased, who has not been identified, was found in the basement of the house in the 4000 block of Webster Road, Witty said. The deceased will not be identified until the Office of the Chief Chief Medical Examiner has completed its autopsy, she said.

No one else was home at the time of the fire.

It took about 50 firefighters more than two and a half hours to contain the blaze, according to the fire marshal's office.

Units from multiple Harford and Cecil county fire companies responded after multiple neighbors called 911 around 12:19 p.m. Wednesday. Firefighters from the Level Volunteer Fire Company were the first on the scene.

By the time they arrived, the two-story house was full engulfed in flames.

Susquehanna Hose, Darlington, Aberdeen, Rising Sun, Bel Air, Jarrettsville, Norrisville, Delta-Cardiff and Water Witch fire companies also responded to the blaze.

Steve Jones, who owns SJ Elsner’s Lawnmower Sales and Service on Webster Road, said the fire and loss of life hit him hard.

"It gives you the realization that if there’s a fire in the home, no matter how fast the fire department gets here, it’s still a loss,” Jones said.

The approximately 3,100-square-foot home was built in 1880, according to property tax records.

Art Elsner, who lives on Webster Road and used to own the lawn mower repair shop, said the house used to be the parsonage for Hopewell United Methodist Church.

The house had two smoke alarms, but investigators don’t believe they were working, Witty said. There was no sprinkler system.

Investigators from the fire marshal’s office, with support of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Maryland State Police, are working to determine the cause and origin of the fire, Witty said.

Anyone with additional information about the fire is asked to contact the Northeast Regional Office of the State Fire Marshal at 410-836-4852.

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