Blaze spreads too fast boy dies 4 others hurt in fire that sweeps through Stoneleigh home.


A one-alarm fire that swept through a Stoneleigh home, killing a 9-year-old boy and injuring four other people, spread so quickly that there was no time to rescue the boy, neighbors said.

"The house literally went up so fast, even if someone tried to get in, he couldn't," said Gary G. Jordan, 39, who lives next door to the house that burned early yesterday in the 600 block of Regester Ave. "It was just that fast and intense. We tried our best."

John Christian Grothmann, a fourth-grader at Stoneleigh Elementary School, was killed in the fire that broke out at his home in the tree-lined neighborhood between the city line and Towson, Baltimore County fire officials said.

John was pronounced dead at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

"A fireman said he probably never woke up," Jordan said.

Also killed was the family dog, whose body was found in the house.

The dead youngster's brother, Bob Curtis Grothmann, 22, received burns to nearly 50 percent of his body. He was taken to Francis Scott Key Medical Center, where he was listed in critical condition today.

A sister, Beth Grothmann, also 22; another brother, William Grothmann, 15; and a family friend, Ronald Drager, 25, were taken to St. Joseph Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Police said Beth Grothmann was treated and released. William Grothmann and Drager were admitted and listed today in good condition.

Another sister and the mother, Barbara Grothmann, were not home when the fire broke out.

Police said the father resides elsewhere.

The fire caused extensive damage to the house, officials said.

County fire investigators today continued to investigate the cause and origin of the fire that was reported at 3:46 a.m.

Jordan said his daughter awoke him after hearing screams coming from the burning house. He then awakened his wife.

"We went over," Jordan said. "We busted a couple of windows to help them get out."

A couple of family members escaped through the broken windows, he said.

Another neighbor, who saw the flames from his home, ran to the burning house and began screaming to wake up the family.

Then, that neighbor, who did not want to be identified, went to get a shovel to help in the rescue. Someone else called 911.

"When I came back, Bob came through the window," the neighbor said. "He was on the grass."

Using the shovel, the man knocked out a panel of a basement door, which enabled Beth Grothmann and Drager to escape.

Soon afterward, Jordan got a ladder to rescue William Grothmann from the roof, where the teen-ager had crawled for safety.

About that time, the fire department arrived, neighbors said.

"I think everybody's kind of in shock," Jordan said.

He said the Stoneleigh Community Association is collecting food, clothing and money for the displaced family members, who are staying with relatives.

4( "Our heart is broken," Jordan said.

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