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Fire destroys Maloney Ave. home, owner okay

November 03, 2010 - A 78-year-old Oxford woman is alive and well, but unfortunately her home is a total loss after a fire destroyed it Sunday.

Firefighters were dispatched to a structure fire at 515 Maloney Ave. (north of W. Drahner Rd.) at about 8:55 a.m.

"We had a truck on scene within four-and-a-half minutes," said Fire Chief Pete Scholz. "The rear side of the house was fully involved. The homeowner was out. She was across the street at the neighbor's house when we got there."

Scholz said the firefighters tried to battle the blaze from the home's interior, but it was "too well involved on the inside and it forced us back out."

Firefighters then went into a "defensive operation" to protect the next door residence. "We were able to keep that (house) from getting any damage other than a little bit of charring on the fence," Scholz said.

The chief estimated his department had the fire under control within about an hour after arriving. Orion Township firefighters assisted at the scene.

Scholz described the two-story, 2,200-square-foot home as a total loss.

"It's still standing, but it's pretty well gutted out on the inside," he said. "The whole front of the house is still standing, but the center of the roof (is burned) through. The back walls are all burned off the house, so it's wide open (facing Long Lake)."

The chief indicated the house will have to be demolished. "There's char and burn throughout the entire inside," he said. "Every room had fire in it except the (attached) garage."

Although the blaze is under investigation by an Oakland County Sheriff's fire investigator, per standard procedure, Scholz said preliminary findings indicate it was caused by smoldering fireplace embers left inside a cardboard box that was placed on the floor.

"She cleaned the (fireplace insert) out, then put (the debris) into a cardboard box," Scholz said. When she realized the embers were still hot, she put them back in the fireplace, but some of the hot coals got left in the cardboard box, which ignited it.

After cleaning out the fireplace in the early morning hours, the homeowner went back to sleep. She was awakened by the smoke a little after 8 a.m., Scholz said.

After escaping the home through a second-floor exit, Scholz indicated the 78-year-old homeowner attempted to extinguish the blaze with a garden hose, but when she opened an exterior door, the oxygen she let in fueled the fire and caused it to spread.

A neighbor saw the smoke and reported the fire to 9-1-1. The 78-year-old homeowner was transported to St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, where she was treated for smoke inhalation and released.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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