- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2007

An elderly couple died yesterday when an early-morning fire swept through their Kensington home.

The blaze started about 1:55 a.m., awaking neighbors who called 911 and rushed to try to help the victims, Osker Craig Reynolds, 88, and Patricia Reynolds, 84.

Firefighters arrived at the 108-year-old Victorian home, in the 3900 block of Baltimore Street, to find Mr. Reynolds outside the back door. Montgomery County fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said Mr. Reynolds appeared to have been trying to help his wife leave the house. Mrs. Reynolds was found in her wheelchair in the kitchen. She had been limited to getting around in a wheelchair or with a walker for several years. The couple in three weeks would have been married 60 years.

A Naval Academy senior, John O’Neill, 22, was among the first to reach the house. He was staying overnight with his parents behind the Reynolds’ home.

Midshipman O’Neill said his father awoke him, and he arrived at the house to find woman looking inside the Reynolds’ windows and screaming: “There’s somebody in there. They need help.’ ”

Midshipman O’Neill said he kicked open a side door and searched the home for about 30 seconds. Firefighters kept him from re-entering the home. He was taken to Bethesda Naval Hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

A second alarm brought 75 more firefighters. Two firefighters were taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries, Mr. Piringer said.

The damage was estimated at $1 million.

Investigators hauled away a new refrigerator from the Reynolds’ kitchen to see whether an electrical failure might have sparked the fire, said the couple’s son, David Reynolds.

“They just got it Friday,” said David Reynolds, 48, a real estate agent from Monrovia, Md.

“I know where they are,” he said. “They’re in heaven with my brother. They never, ever fought. They loved each other all the days of their life. They didn’t drink or smoke…. Well, Daddy said he drank half a beer once, then set it down and got a Coke.”

That was during World War II when Mr. Reynolds was finance officer for the 10th Army in Guam, Okinawa and other Far East battlefields.

The husband and wife both were born and raised in Illinois. Mr. Reynolds was a senior, and Mrs. Reynolds was a freshman when they met at the University of Illinois. They married after the war in 1946 and came to the Washington area in a 1936 Buick with $300.

Mr. Reynolds went to work for the U.S. Census Bureau and later became an economist for the Department of Commerce, David Reynolds said.

“My mom was a teacher,” he said. “She was making more [money] than he was. … This home is full of more love than you can ever find.”

David Reynolds also said while his mother was in rehabilitation for a disease that attacked her ability to walk, a lady from across the street came over every day to fix meals for his father.

“They’re great neighbors,” he said. “They were taking such good care of my folks.”

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