ST. MARYS COUNTY, Md.—The Office of the State Fire Marshal has determined the cause of the April 16 fatal fire which claimed the life of 81-year-old Marion W. Gatton. Investigators found an operating burner on the electric stove was on a low setting and came into contact with combustibles that resulted in a fast moving fire producing heavy smoke and flames.
The 1:16 p.m. accidental fire at 19555 Three Notch Road was located by the victims caretaker, Delores Pennington. After attempting to extinguish the fire, she determined she was unable to control the flames and escaped to the exterior of the dwelling and called 911. An active duty U.S. Marine, Jon Spindler, from the nearby Naval Air
Station Patuxent River, attempted to enter the structure to assist the victim. The heavy smoke conditions thwarted his attempts to reach her. Both Pennington and Spindler were treated and released at Medstar St. Marys Hospital for non-life threatening injuries.
A preliminary report by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner revealed the victim succumbed to smoke inhalation complicated by thermal burn injuries received during the fire. Working smoke alarms were located inside the dwelling.