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Images of fatal fire haunt onlookers


In Dundalk yesterday, Amanda Shipley said she was haunted by the image of little David at the second-floor window.

"His face was just so red and scared and shocked," said Amanda, 13, who lived two doors from the Dundalk house that burned Tuesday, killing a woman and two children.

"He was screaming, 'I can't, I can't,' because everyone wanted him to jump," she said.

"Then the flames came up and ate him up. I wanted him to get out, but he didn't. I can't forget his face."

A day after the fire, children and parents collected donations from neighbors and motorists passing through the area. By midafternoon, about $400 had been collected.

The cause of the fire remained unknown.

Fire Chief James H. Barnes Jr. and six crews from three county stations walked through the 2000 block of Frames Road yesterday and passed out fire-prevention literature and free smoke detectors to families whose homes did not have one. It was the county's first city-style neighborhood walk after a fatal fire.

"This is our first multiple fatality for the year and our first child fatality for the year," said Battalion Chief Mark L. Hubbard, a Baltimore County fire spokesman. "We're not used to having children die, and we're not used to having mutiple fatalities like the city. This has really affected the neighborhood and the department as well, so we want to make our presence known to the community. We just want to let the neighborhood know that we're here to help them with this tragedy."

Since 1990 in Baltimore County, five children under the age of 11 have died in fires, and six fires have involved multiple fatalities, Chief Hubbard said.

Neighbors said Tuesday's fire took the lives of 8-year-old David Dockery, 50-year-old Thelma Setters and her 4-year-old granddaughter, Tara Dulaney. Five people, including the mothers of both children, survived the flames, which caused about $75,000 in damage, fire officials said.

Officials said two families apparently shared the rowhouse, along with cousins and grandparents.

"There's a possibility that we won't be able to pinpoint the cause because of the amount of destruction in the fire," Chief Hubbard said. "We still do not know whether the three smoke detectors in the house were properly working. . . . But as far as we know, there is no evidence of suspicious activity."

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