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Five firefighters injured battling blaze


Five Baltimore County firefighters were injured yesterday afternoon battling a two-alarm fire that swept through a home in Edgemere, destroying at least the upper part of the structure and leaving two families without a place to live.

No one was home when the fire broke out at 3:30 p.m. in the 2500 block of Lakeview Avenue. It took 40 firefighters nearly two hours to bring the blaze under control.

Investigators were still trying to determine the cause of the fire last night, although one of the residents, R.J. Swoboda, said that he thought the cause was an electrical malfunction.

Four of the injured firefighters suffered heat exhaustion. Capt. Raymond Ricci said the heat was "unbelievable." The fifth firefighter was cut, but Captain Ricci said that he did not have further details.

None of the injuries was considered serious. All five firefighters were treated and released at Franklin Square Hospital.

The owners of the house, John H. and Dolores Swoboda, were in Texas yesterday visiting a son who has cancer, according to neighbor James Kline.

The couple's grandson, R. J. Swoboda, his wife, Karen, and their two children, 1-month-old Christopher and 2-year-old Matthew, rent the upper part of the house, Mr. Kline said. They were not home when the fire broke out. They were staying with the Klines last night.

Mr. Kline said that he called the fire department when he saw smoke coming out of a second-story window. He said that he ran over to the house and kicked in a door to rescue the family's dog, Kashmir, described as a "Louisiana hound dog."

"It was just smoke" apparently at that time, Mr. Kline said. "We didn't see fire until the firemen went in."

Captain Ricci said that the upstairs portion of the house "was gutted pretty bad." But he thought that the damage might be less severe on the first floor. However, R. J. Swoboda called it "a total loss." He said that the cause was probably an electrical malfunction.

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