Beaury "Oakey" Allen escaped his burning house yesterday, but could not stand by and watch his 9-year-old granddaughter disappear in smoke while trying to get out of her second-floor bedroom window.
The 62-year-old man rushed back inside, but was unable to make it to Pamela Jean Allen's bedroom, according to Buzz Laro, a family friend. Both died in the blaze that destroyed their Eastern Shore farmhouse.
The fire broke out shortly after 4 a.m. at the house in Ingleside in Queen Anne's County. It drew firefighters from Kent, Queen Anne's and Caroline counties. Investigators estimated damage to the two-story wood-frame dwelling at $100,000.
Maryland Deputy Chief Fire Marshal Bob Thomas said the accidental blaze started in the kitchen, where a gas heater set fire to a basket filled with clothing.
Mr. Allen's wife, Helen Allen, 57, was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center where she was in serious condition last night. She was being treated for smoke inhalation.
Pamela's brother, Beaury Paul Allen II, 12, was treated for smoke inhalation and minor cuts and abrasions at Kent & Queen Anne's Hospital in Chestertown.
Moments after the fire broke out, the youngster climbed to the second-floor window and tried to reach his sister, according to Mr. Laro. "A big blast of smoke hit her, and she fell back in the room," Mr. Laro said.
It was then that Mr. Allen, who was sitting up against a tree in his front yard, rushed back into the house, Mr. Laro said. He never made it past a first-floor utility room, where firefighters found his body.
For the Allen family, the fire caps a particularly tragic year. Two months ago, Mr. Allen, who works for The Sun as an independent contractor delivering newspapers in the Denton area, was seriously injured in a car accident.
Mr. Laro, the zones sales manager for The Sun, said Mr. Allen lost control of his pickup truck early one Sunday morning while driving to pick up newspapers and drove off the road. Mr. Allen suffered severe head injuries and spent 2 1/2 -months recovering at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center and at several nursing homes.
Mr. Allen returned home two weeks ago, but was too weak to continue his newspaper route, which he has done since 1978. His son Buster -- the father of Pamela and Beaury -- took over the route and was delivering papers when the fire began.