Cumberland Times-News

July 22, 2013

Midland man critical with fire injuries

Jeffrey Alderton
Cumberland Times-News

— MIDLAND — A Midland volunteer firefighter was hospitalized with smoke inhalation injuries early Monday after he was found lying unconscious on the kitchen floor of his residence at 19821 Big Lane Ave., according to Midland Volunteer Fire Chief Donnie Sweitzer.

Denzel Halbritter, 24, was found lying on the kitchen floor at 1:20 a.m.

Halbritter, who is a seven-year member of the Midland Volunteer Fire Department, was taken to the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center where he was listed in critical condition late Monday morning, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Sweitzer said Hallbritter was rescued by Midland firefighters Jessie James and Billy Spiker after they were told by his Hallbritter’s father, who was outside, that his son was inside the two-story residence that was filling with fire and smoke.

“James and Spiker were in full gear and were starting up the steps to the second floor when they caught a glimpse of the victim in the kitchen on the first floor near the back door. James pulled him out of the house as Spiker worked to extinguish the fire that was encroaching on the kitchen at that time.

“The victim was taken outside, where he was immediately given first aid by Frostburg Area Ambulance and Valley Medical Transport that was passing through the area at the time,” said Sweitzer, who is a brother-in-law to the victim.

Initial investigation by a team of state fire investigators determined the fire began in a central first-floor room of the residence.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

Property damage was estimated at $50,000.

The fire was reported to the Allegany County emergency dispatch center in a single 911 call that was placed by the victim’s father, who was reportedly at a location in Gilmore. Officials said the victim had called his father to inform him that their residence in Midland was on fire and the victim’s father then called 911.

An estimated 60 volunteer firefighters responded to the incident. First-arriving Midland firefighters found a working fire and upgraded the alert to a second alarm at that time. The fire was brought under control within 20 minutes of the response.

Goodwill, Shaft, Potomac, Barton, Frostburg, Clarysville, Bowling Green, Piedmont (W.Va.), Cresaptown, Corriganville and Eastern Garrett volunteer fire departments responded along with Frostburg and George Creek ambulances.

Potomac Edison and Columbia Gas personnel also responded.

Sweitzer said he was headed to the hospital to check on his brother-in-law’s medical condition.

 “It was an excellent job on the parts of firefighters James and Spiker,” Sweitzer said.

Shaft and Goodwill volunteer firefighters had entered the residence and were searching the second floor when the victim was discovered, according to Roger Bennett, 911 director who is a member of the Shaft Volunteer Fire Department.

Jeffrey Alderton may be contacted at