Lightning causes fire that forces Eldersburg family from home SOUTHEAST--Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber

Lightning caused a fire that forced an Eldersburg family of four out of its home early Sunday, Deputy State Fire Marshal Allen Ward said yesterday.

The fire, which was discovered shortly before 6 a.m., apparently started in the basement of the home after a severe thunderstorm passed through southern Carroll.


Kenneth and Nancy Wanzer and their sons, Bradley, 16, and Douglas, 14, of the 5400 block of Emerald Drive, were awakened by frequent lightning about 5:35 a.m., Mr. Ward said.

The family checked for a possible lightning strike and, finding none, returned to bed.


Soon, the family again was awakened by a loud explosion in the basement of the house near the edge of Liberty Reservoir, found smoke coming from the laundry and workshop area and fled outside.

Fire officials said Bradley went back into the house with a garden hose and attempted to extinguish the blaze while Mr. Wanzer used a second garden hose from the outside.

More than 45 firefighters and 10 pieces of equipment from Sykesville, Gamber, Winfield and Liberty Road of Baltimore County responded to the one-alarm blaze and brought the fire under control within 20 minutes.

The firefighters remained at the scene for four hours to clear the house of smoke and to check whether the fire had spread into other parts of the house, fire officials said.

The blaze, which was mostly confined to the laundry room and workshop in the basement, destroyed the lower floor and spread to one of the bedrooms on the first floor through a heating duct, officials said.

No one was injured in the blaze. Damage was estimated at $60,000. The investigation into the cause is continuing.

The family was staying with relatives.