Mulch ignites, causes fire in an Ellicott City house; $350,000 in damage on Bracken Drive


A one-alarm fire, caused by a bag of mulch that ignited, severely damaged an Ellicott City house yesterday afternoon, causing an estimated $350,000 in damage, a fire official said.

Howard County Fire Capt. David Carroll said the fire broke out just after 5 p.m. at a residence in the 10170 block of Bracken Drive.

Firefighters from Howard and Baltimore counties extinguished the fire in about two hours, Carroll said.

At the back of the house, a bag of mulch, which was left next to the outside vent of a pellet stove, was ignited by the stove's heat, Carroll said.

Brittany Blakenship, 10, who was home alone when the fire started, told neighbors she saw smoke, heard the smoke detector go off and then saw fire. Two other occupants -- a nanny and an 8-year-old child -- had left the house minutes earlier for gymnastics class.

Brian Mackel, 29, who lives next door, arrived home just as the fire broke out. "In the matter of time I walked into my house and upstairs, I saw flames on the bottom floor," he said. "When I walked to the back of the house next door, I could see that it was totally engulfed."

The homeowner, Elizabeth L. Blakenship, 39, was in a neighbor's yard and watched firefighters extinguish the blaze. She has lived in the house seven years.

Pub Date: 2/23/99

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