- The Washington Times - Monday, January 29, 2007

A Montgomery County police officer is being credited with saving a family of nine from a town house fire in Poolesville early yesterday.

Officer John Binnix was driving by the Meadow Valley complex at 3:45 a.m. when he saw flames on the roof of a two-story town house in the 19500 block of Fisher Avenue. He stopped, ran up to the home and banged on the door.

“He was driving by and saw the smoke. He decided, ‘Wait. Maybe I should be sure it’s safe,’ ” said Becky Stream, 17, who lives nearby.

Ronn and Richlyn Carr and their seven children, ages 1 to 21, live in that town house.

Andre Carr, 21, who was awake, said he did not smell smoke until he heard Officer Binnix yelling outside. Andre’s yelling awakened his stepfather, who woke up the rest of the family.

“I told them to get up, to grab whatever they could and get out,” said Ronn Carr, 38, a grocery delivery employee.

“The girls were wearing only their nightgowns,” said Mrs. Carr, 43. “It was about 15 degrees outside.”

The Carr family dog also survived yesterday’s fire.

Initially, firefighters arrived from the Beallsville station several miles away to battle the blaze. A second alarm summoned the Frederick fire department. In the end, there were 75 firefighters on the scene and the fire was put out in two hours.

Fire investigators said the blaze began after dry framing near a chimney caught fire, spreading flames to the roof.

Damage to the Carr’s residence and adjacent homes was estimated at $350,000.

Residents who lived in the adjacent homes might be able to move back in about a month, it was estimated.

Ron Davis, a financial officer with Disaster Restoration Solutions Inc., estimated that the Carr family would have to wait more than six months to return home.

The Red Cross was called to help find temporary housing for 12 persons, three of whom lived in the adjacent town houses.

Mrs. Carr said her family will stay at a Gaithersburg hotel. “We will return” to the neighborhood, she said.

Neighbor Ward Ekelof, 41, has lived in two of the town houses in six years. “I love it here. The neighbors are great,” he said.

Neighbor Matt Roberts, 20, also expects to return. His experience was similar to that of Andre Carr. “I was already awake. I didn’t even know there was a fire,” he said. “The flames came through the attic.”

Mr. Davis said repairs will be delayed while the damaged buildings are thoroughly dried, to prevent toxic mold. Freezing temperatures delay that procedure.

Mrs. Carr, who home-schools her children and works part time as a school crossing guard, hopes the fire is the last of potential disasters that has struck her family over the past two years.

Her daughter Rianna, 3, was diagnosed with cancer, which apparently is responding to medical treatment. A year ago, Mrs. Carr was hit by a vehicle. While she was hospitalized, she gave birth to her youngest child, Austin, who turns 1 tomorrow.

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