Woman dies in Edgewood house fire man survives; Popular neighborhood figure called likely victim


A woman died and a man was treated for smoke inhalation in a three-alarm fire in Edgewood yesterday that damaged two adjoining homes.

Officials declined to release the names of the victims yesterday pending positive identification of the woman by the State Medical Examiner's office.

But friends and family feared yesterday that the woman might have been Mary J. Brannock, 44, of the 1800 block of Brookside Drive, who they believe was in the home with her boyfriend.

Brannock -- who survived a fire at her previous home four years ago -- was remembered yesterday as a devoted mother of four with strong ties to the community. Friends said that when a series of fires in the Meadowood neighborhood destroyed her home and several others in 1993, Brannock organized residents and offered aid to all who needed it.

"Everyone in Edgewood knew Mary," said family friend Rita Hatfield. "Today you were waiting for Mary to come out and start giving orders and organizing everyone, but that didn't happen."

Fire officials received a call at 9: 38 a.m. yesterday about a fire in a townhouse in the 1800 block of Brookside Drive. By the time firefighters arrived, the home was engulfed in flames.

"One male was alerted by a smoke detector and was able to get out of the house," said W. Faron Taylor, deputy state fire marshal. "The body of the woman was found just outside of a second-floor rear bedroom."

Residents said the man stood helplessly outside of the home screaming "Mary, Mary," but was unable to return inside because of the heat and flames. Neighbor Lamont Harris said the two-story townhouse, which was in a row with three others, burned quickly.

"The smoke was so thick you could see it blocks away," Harris said. "You already knew it was going to be bad."

A knock from a neighbor alerted Maria Quinones, who lived next door. Quinones, whose townhouse was damaged, fled barefoot with her 15-month-old daughter, Marangely.

"I didn't smell smoke or anything," Quinones said. "I just grabbed my baby and ran."

Karol Bangledorf, 25, who lives in the townhouse on the other side of Brannock's, said she received a call at work that her home was on fire. When she arrived, rescuers were resuscitating her Rottweiler, Shadow, who had been in the basement, Bangledorf said.

Two firefighters were treated at the scene for minor burns.

Brannock's three adult sons and teen-age daughter held each other as officials combed through the charred homes to determine what started the fire.

Pub Date: 5/28/98

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