Investigators seek cause of apartment fire that killed 2 men in Eastport


Annapolis fire investigators are trying to determine the cause of a blaze that killed two co-workers Monday night in their Eastport apartment.

The fire - the first fatal fire in Annapolis in more than two years - killed Douglas Knickerbocker, 27, and Aaron Carter, 30, who worked at the nearby Boatyard Bar and Grill. Their dog, a Weimaraner, also died.

The fire broke out about 11:35 p.m., and Annapolis, Naval Academy and Anne Arundel County fire departments responded.

Capt. Leonard Clark, spokesman for the Annapolis Fire Department, said the fire started in the kitchen of the apartment, which was on the second and third floors of a home in the 200 block of Severn Ave. Residents of two first-floor apartments were not home, and a woman in a second-floor apartment escaped after being awakened by a smoke alarm. It was not clear yesterday whether the smoke detector in the victims' apartment was functioning.

Officials believe that Knickerbocker and Carter were asleep when the fire started, Clark said. Firefighters found Knickerbocker in his second-floor bedroom; Carter was in his bedroom on the third floor.

Both were dead on arrival at Anne Arundel Medical Center from smoke inhalation.

Damage to the house was estimated at $200,000, officials said.

Boatyard Bar and Grill - where Knickerbocker was a bartender and Carter was assistant manager - was closed Tuesday as employees mourned the loss of the men.

"They were great guys - hardworking, fun-loving," said Tammy Reece, general manager.

She said that Knickerbocker, originally from Florida, enjoyed writing poetry, and Carter, a native of Havre de Grace, spent much of his free time sailing.

"It's sad, and we think about them a lot," Reece said. "Half of us expect them to walk through the door."

The restaurant - where a couple of dozen pictures of the men fill a bulletin board by the bar - will be closed again Saturday so employees can attend Carter's funeral in Perryville.

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