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Firefighters battle hazardous conditions fighting house fire in Whiteford

Firefighters battle hazardous conditions fighting house fire in Whiteford
Firefighters carry a bird cage removed from a trailer that caught fire Wednesday night in the 4000 block of Prospect Road in Whiteford. Firefighters removed 10 birds and a cat from the home. (Courtesy Office of the State Fire Marshal)

Firefighters battled a house fire in hazardous conditions Wednesday evening in Whiteford, where one of the homeowners was taken to a local hospital.

The fire in a house trailer was reported just before 5:30 p.m. in the 4000 block of Prospect Road, according to the Harford County Fire & EMS media page.

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About 50 firefighters from Whiteford Volunteer Fire Company were assisted by fire companies for Harford and York County in Pennsylvania and had the two-alarm fire under control within an hour, according to a notice of investigation from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Firefighters battled the blaze from inside the house, but they ran into some obstacles while ventilating, said Jennifer Chenworth, a spokesperson for the Harford County Fire & EMS Association.

One homeowner was taken to a local medical facility with non-life-threatening injures, she said.

Both elderly residents barely escaped the blaze and the home is considered a complete loss, the fire marshal’s office wrote on its Facebook page Wednesday night.

The estimated loss is $50,000 to the trailer and $25,000 to its contents, the fire marshal said.

The trailer was owned by Robert and Jacqueline Woods, according to a notice of investigation from the fire marshal. They are being assisted by the American Red Cross.

One pet bird died from smoke inhalation and six others were rescued and in the care of Harford County Animal Control, the fire marshal said. Four cats were believed to have escaped.

The fire marshal was investigating the cause of the fire, which started on an exterior wall.

Firefighters battled frigid and hazardous conditions while fighting a fire Wednesday night in the 4000 block of Prospect Road in Whiteford.
Firefighters battled frigid and hazardous conditions while fighting a fire Wednesday night in the 4000 block of Prospect Road in Whiteford. (Courtesy Office of the State Fire Marshal)

Chenworth said weather conditions play a significant factor in fighting a fire like this one.

“It’s now 9 degrees outside. It’s pretty hazardous,” Chenworth said. “As soon as the water hits the ground, it freezes, causing additional hazards.”

Sometimes an issue when battling a blaze in below-freezing temperatures is establishing a water source, especially in an area not served by hydrants.

In this case, however, the source was established quickly, Chenworth said.

More firefighters than usual are also needed because of the cold.

“The weather takes a toll on them,” she said.

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In addition to slipping and falling on ice as they fight the fire, firefighters are also subject to hypothermia and frostbite, she said.

“They stay somewhat warm, with all the turnout gear on, but they’re still cold,” Chenworth said. “Cold is definitely a significant factor.”

When the weather is as severe as it is, the hazardous materials rehab unit — which serves as a heating or cooling center based on conditions — responds to a scene.

Prospect Road is closed because of the fire activity and the Harford County Department of Public Works Highways Division was assisting in icy conditions from water sources at the scene and the water source area, according to the Association’s media page.

Tonight’s incident is in the same area where earlier this month a 26-year-old man died in a fire.

Kyle Jones was trapped inside his family’s trailer in the 4000 block of Prospect Road on Jan. 10. His father tried to reach him from the outside, but was unsuccessful.

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