LEXINGTON PARK, Md. – The victims of an early Monday morning house fire in Lexington Park have been positively identified as 59-year-old Jerome Garcia Barnes and 61-year-old Mary Jacqueline Queen. According to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, both died due to smoke inhalation.
Deputy State Fire Marshals have concluded the fire originated within the basement. While the fire remains under investigation, they have not recovered evidence that it was an act of arson and continue to explore all possible accidental causes.
At around 1:20 a.m. on Monday, an occupant awoke to smoke and discovered a fire within the basement. The person who discovered the fire and two others escaped the two-story home.
Upon the arrival of firefighters, they were told two people were still trapped inside the home. They immediately located Barnes and Queen on the second floor. Investigators learned the home was being rented, and everyone within the home was related.
It took 40 firefighters from the Bay District Volunteer Fire Department and surrounding departments to control the one-alarm blaze.
The Office of the State Fire Marshals continues to work in collaboration with the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, which is a standard operating procedure whenever a fatal fire occurs.
This double fire fatality comes on the heels of three children tragically losing their lives in a Baltimore City fire last Saturday. The Office of the State Fire Marshal requests all Marylanders to remain vigilant in maintaining smoke alarms in their homes.
“Within the first three months of the new year, we’re seeing an uptick in tragedies associated with home fires across Maryland,” said State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci, “We need families to be aware of the fire hazards in their homes and put into practice, some straightforward safety tips. First and foremost, test your smoke alarms; this single device is the most effective tool in preventing injury or death. Make a plan. Please come together as a family and make a home escape plan so you all know what to do in an emergency. Please move to your family’s safe spot when the smoke and CO alarms sound. Remember to get out and stay out and dial 911 from a safe location.” stated Geraci