Cause of explosion under investigation Homeowner remains hospitalized with burns


Investigators from the state fire marshal's office say they do not know what caused a Sunday night fire and explosion in a Taneytown home.

Three volunteer firefighters from Union Bridge and the homeowner were injured when a box that was being carried from the smoldering home in the 2500 block of Roop Road exploded in their faces, said Bob Thomas, deputy chief state fire marshal.

The homeowner, Donald Leroy Shantz, 56, was in stable condition at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, a hospital spokeswoman said yesterday.

Firefighter Chris Harris, 25, was treated and released yesterday, the spokeswoman said.

Both men suffered second-degree burns to their face, and eye injuries, Thomas said.

Firefighters Mike Green, 26, and Mike Burriss, 25, were treated for facial burns and released from Carroll County General Hospital after the 9: 21 p.m. incident, he said.

Fire marshals believe the blaze was accidental and began in the attic, said Thomas.

About 45 firefighters from Taneytown, Union Bridge, Harney, New Windsor and Littlestown, Pa., responded and had extinguished the blaze when the box exploded, Thomas said.

Hazardous-materials technicians from Fort Detrick in Frederick and from the Maryland Department of the Environment were unable to determine what was in the box, which was about the size of a small foot locker, he said.

"The remnants will be sent to the Maryland State Police laboratory in Pikesville this week to be analyzed," Thomas said.

He declined to speculate as to the contents of the box.

"The box was stored in the house by the owner's son five years ago," Thomas said. "He now lives in Colorado."

Shantz's wife, Mary Ellen, was not injured.

The damage to the house was estimated at $40,000 for the structure and contents, but that could increase as the investigation continues, Thomas said.

Pub Date: 9/04/96

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