Three people are dead after a late-night fire on April 21 swept through an Arundel Lodge group home in Severn, Maryland. Two residents Walter McCardell, 61, and William Garcia, 44; and one employee, Barbara Brown, 65, perished in the blaze. Authorities believe Brown died while trying to save Garcia.
Arundel Lodge Fire Investigation
Arundel Lodge is a nonprofit organization that offers mental health and substance abuse treatment services in Anne Arundel County, which borders the Chesapeake Bay just south of Baltimore. Through its residential rehabilitation program, it operates 32 group homes that can accommodate up to 110 individuals at one time. One of them, a single-family residence located in the 7900 block of Stone Hearth Road, is where the fire broke out around 10:45 p.m. on April 21. Fire officials said the house was equipped with functioning smoke detectors.
Neighbors told local media they heard a loud boom, looked outside and saw the house in flames. They ran to help. Two men went inside but found no one. Others shouted imploring anyone to yell if they were inside, they heard no answer.
When firefighters arrived on the scene, they found a large fire coming from the back of the house. County officials said seven people were inside the residence when the fire began, four of them made it out safely and told firefighters that others may still be inside.
Firefighters found McCardell first. They carried him outside and began CPR but were unable to revive him, Fire Capt. Russ Davies told the Capital Gazette. After they found McCardell, firefighters went back in found Garcia and Brown together. All three were pronounced dead at the scene.
Forty-five firefighters from Anne Arundel County, Fort George G. Meade and BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport battled the blaze for more than an hour before bringing it under control.
An investigation into the cause of the fire includes representatives from the Anne Arundel County Fire Department, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the ATF’s National Laboratory Center in Beltsville. They are asking anyone with information, including photos or videos of the fire, to call 410-222-8477.