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Elderly woman in critical condition following Cumberland Arms Fire

March 9th, 2018 by WCBC Radio

A sprinkler system is credited with saving an elderly Cumberland woman Thursday evening after the chair and electric blanket she was sitting on ignited. 

    On March 8, 2018 at 9:16 p.m. Cumberland Fire Department was alerted for an automatic alarm at Cumberland Arms Apartments located at 10 North Liberty Street. Upon arrival of firefighters they determined a fire alarm as well as a 'water flow' alarm had been activated on the fifth floor of the six-story, 69 unit, apartment building.  Upon reaching the fifth floor, firefighters observed an elderly husband and wife in the hallway, just outside Unit #501.  Firefighters observed significant burn injuries  to the female as well as smoke and water coming from the apartment. Firefighters made entry to the apartment and discovered a fire contained to a reclining chair after the sprinkler system activated.  

    A joint investigation between Cumberland Fire Department and the Office of the State Fire Marshal determined Ronald E. Barb (age 82) left the apartment to get dinner, leaving his wife, Roberta L. Barb (age 82)  who is unable to walk due to a medical condition, in the apartment alone.  As Mr. Barb returned, he discovered the fire alarm activating within the building and became aware the area of activation was on the fifth floor. Upon arriving on the fifth floor, he observed water coming from under his apartment door. Mr. Barb entered the apartment and encountered heavy smoke. Mr. Barb was able to rescue Mrs. Barb and carry her to the safety of the hallway.  Mrs. Barb was transported to Western Maryland Regional Medical Center by Cumberland Fire Department and was later transferred to Johns Hopkins Bayview Burn Center. Barb is currently listed in critical but stable condition with 1st and 2nd degree burns.  

    The origin and cause investigation determined an electric blanket failed; subsequently igniting Barbs clothing and the reclining chair she was sitting in. While several floors under the involved apartment sustained water damage, Deputy State Fire Marshals credit the sprinkler system for containing the fire to the chair, minimizing damages to less than $5,000.00. 

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