A fire that began with a cooking accident forced a Westminster family into 22-degree cold yesterday while flames ate through large sections of their house.
"It went up so fast nobody had time to do anything," said Arthur Frisby, as he watched smoke unfold from the windows and doors of his home at 26 Charles St.
Mr. Frisby said he had been sleeping while his wife Melanie cooked dinner. He said she spilled something that ignited in the burner of the gas range, and the fire quickly spread.
One of the couple's sons also was in the house at the time, but Mr. Frisby said the three escaped unharmed.
Firefighters from Westminster, Reese, Pleasant Valley, Union Bridge and Winfield responded to the 4:30 p.m. alarm.
They spent about an hour extinguishing the visible flames, then remained on the scene to check for hidden fires.
Westminster Fire Company spokesman Lt. Danny Plunkert said the house suffered heavy fire damage, but he would not describe it as destroyed. He said he could not identify the cause until after an investigation is completed.
"It's sad," said next-door neighbor Karen Dorm, as she watched firefighters train the hoses on the rear wall of the kitchen. Other neighbors commented that the fire was particularly devastating during the holiday season.
Tim Frisby, another of Mr. and Mrs. Frisby's sons, said his parents had all their Christmas gifts inside the house.
He grew up in the house, and said his family had lived there for at least 20 years.
Mr. and Mrs. Frisby and their other son went to the home of a relative last night.