Hagerstown fire officials were investigating the cause of a heavy fire at a downtown Hagerstown house on Sunday morning.
Two dogs died, but the family was not home at the time of the fire, Hagerstown Fire Marshal Doug DeHaven said. A third dog survived, he said.
The fire at 226 E. Franklin St. was reported at 12:34 a.m. Sunday, according to Washington County Emergency Services.
The call to 911 came in as an explosion at a house, a 911 supervisor said.
DeHaven said it’s not unusual for someone to report hearing an explosion when a fire occurs.
Investigators were digging through the rubble Sunday for electrical items, including portable heaters and smoke alarms, as they collected evidence to help determine what caused the fire, DeHaven said.
An accelerant-detecting dog from Howard County, Md., also was at the house Sunday morning. DeHaven said such dogs are used to rule out possible causes and to determine what might have caused a blaze.
The stucco, two-story house has a basement and an attic, DeHaven said. Nearby homes were not damaged by the fire, he said.
The house is just west of the intersection with Cannon Avenue.
The American Red Cross was contacted to assist the family with shelter, if needed, DeHaven said. One of the family members was in the hospital, prior to the fire, and other family members were visiting that person when the fire occurred, he said.
Three Hagerstown fire marshals and a Howard County, Md., fire marshal, who was with the canine, were at the house Sunday morning.
DeHaven said the local fire marshals’ workload has been demanding so, as part of procedure, more than one fire marshal tries to respond to incidents to assist with investigations.
He said 34 emergency-services personnel responded to the fire. Hagerstown Fire Department, Community Rescue Service, the Washington County Air Unit, the Washington County Emergency Rehab Unit and Washington County Special Operations responded to the call.
For much of Sunday, a portion of one lane of East Franklin Street was closed to through traffic as officials investigated the cause of the blaze.
Jennifer Fitch is a reporter for The Herald-Mail. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.