Germantown fire kills man; passersby rescue his wife -- Gazette.Net


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This was updated at 4:30 p.m. on April 29, 2014.

A woman had to be carried from her burning Germantown home Thursday, rescued by a retired officer who lived nearby and a police detective who happened to be on his way to work.

But the woman’s 65-year-old husband Kenneth Beene, was unable to escape. Firefighters found him dead when they arrived at the couple’s Kingsview residence Thursday morning.

Authorities had no released Beene’s wife’s name as of Tuesday afternoon.

The woman was being treated Thursday for non-life-threatening injuries, said Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service Battalion Chief Dorcus “Dee” W. Howard Richards.

The fire call was dispatched at around 7:30 a.m. in the 13500 block of Jamieson Place, according to Richards.

Detective Mario Mastrangelo of the Montgomery County police family division said he happened to be driving about two blocks away when he saw the smoke.

“I had picked up my kids for Take Your Child to Work Day,” Mastrangelo said.

He parked outside the home, leaving his 12-year-old and 9-year-old behind.

A retired police officer who lived nearby also ran into the home. That officer said he wanted to remain anonymous, said Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery County police spokesman.

Inside, the officers could hear the sirens of firetrucks heading to the home. The wife, who was in her 60s, was found on the first floor in the back of the home. She was disoriented.

“She didn’t want to leave,” Mastrangelo said.

Her husband was still in the house, in a second-floor bedroom.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Division Chief Scott E. Goldstein said it was unclear what started the blaze, but the fire likely began in an upstairs bedroom, beneath a window.

Goldstein said the wife was alerted by a smoke detector and went into the bedroom to wake up her husband.

The couple tried to put the fire out, he said. At some point, the wife went downstairs to get a pail, Goldstein said. But she couldn’t get back in the room.

Her husband was trapped.

She called 911. During the call, Goldstein said, you could hear the two men arriving to rescue her.

“I pretty much carried her out of the home,” Mastrangelo said.

A dog also was rescued. The couple’s two cats were unaccounted for, according to fire officials.

After carrying the woman out of the home, Mastrangelo and the retired police officer grabbed the garden hose from the back of the house and went back inside to attempt to rescue her husband.

But the stairway was surrounded by a “wall of flames.”

“The second to last step, the flames were about up to here,” he said putting his hands up to his chest. It was hard to breathe and the entire second floor was engulfed in flames, Mastrangelo said.

They decided the safest thing to do was to get out of the home.

The whole ordeal took about five minutes, which he said “felt like an eternity.”

“It hurts,” Mastrangelo said. “I’m glad I was able to get the elderly woman out. I wish I could have gotten both. It was tough.”

It took fire crews about 20 minutes to extinguish the blaze, according to Richards.

Goldstein said investigators were assessing the total damage.

Mastrangelo said that after the fire, he wound up giving his kids a tour of his office and that he went to a court proceeding as usual. He said they called him a hero.

“It’s always in you,” Mastrangelo said, “that instinct to want to save someone.”

tarnold@gazette.net