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One firefighter injured in early morning blaze

By Joe Beck

An early Wednesday morning fire left one firefighter with minor injuries as it swept through the hallway and attic of a Front Royal townhouse at 730 W. 14th St.

Fire Chief Richard E. Mabie said the fire caused $25,000 in damage and forced Brandon McElwee, the occupant of the two-story residence, to evacuate and later arrange to stay with family members.

Mabie said firefighters arriving at the scene around 3 a.m. found smoke pouring through the roof of the building. Mabie said firefighters were able to stop the fire from spreading to the main body of the structure and brought it under control in about 45 minutes. It took about another hour to extinguish the blaze, he said.

Mabie said the smell of smoke and the sound of fire crackling awakened McElwee in his bedroom.

McElwee tried unsuccessfully to extinguish the fire before the smoke and flames forced him to flee the building uninjured, Mabie said.

"I think he was using pans or bowls of water," Mabie said of McElwee's efforts to halt the fire. "It put out some of it, but it didn't put it out all the way."

Mabie said a continuous stream of water is needed to prevent a fire from starting back up after it has begun to subside.

"It just got to the point where he couldn't control it anymore, so he called 911," Mabie said of McElwee.

Capt. Gerry Maiatico of the Fire Marshal's Office identified an electrical wire short circuit in the attic as the cause of the fire.

Mabie said one firefighter received minor injuries when a ceiling collapsed on him as he stood on a ladder on the second floor. Other firefighters removed him from the building and treated him outside, Mabie said. The firefighter refused transport to the hospital, Mabie said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com


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