2009-02-05 / Front Page

Toddler Dies In Fort Loudon Inn Blaze

Coroner links death to smoke inhalation
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Kayla Jo Myers, 19 months old, died of smoke inhalation in a fire at the Fort Loudon Inn last Tuesday morning. Kayla Jo Myers, 19 months old, died of smoke inhalation in a fire at the Fort Loudon Inn last Tuesday morning. A 19-month-old Greencastle toddler succumbed to smoke inhalation last Tuesday morning during a blaze at the historic Fort Loudon Inn that emanated from the second-story room where the girl was staying overnight with her mother and older sister.

Franklin County Coroner Jeffrey Conner reported following the January 27 fire an autopsy was completed at Lehigh Valley Medical Center in Allentown for 19-month-old Kayla Jo Myers. The findings revealed Kayla suffered from smoke inhalation after she became separated from her mother, Stacey Pine, and older sister, 2-1/2-year-old Jasmine Myers, during the fire.

The family had spent the night at the inn, constructed during the 1700s, with friend Dennis Fox. Fox had reportedly been residing at the inn for approximately two months. After the Myers children had gone to sleep, the adults spent the evening hours talking to a friend in emotional distress.

Jasmine Myers had been pulled from the smoke and firefilled room by Fox. Fox then returned to his room on the second floor and pulled out Pine, who was still frantically searching for her youngest daughter.

Both Pine and Jasmine Myers were transported from the scene to Chambersburg Hospital where they were treated and released for smoke inhalation. Fox refused treatment.

Also receiving treatment at Chambersburg Hospital were two firefighters from the Maugansville Goodwill Fire Co. One firefighter was injured when a ceiling fell in, and the other individual was injured trying to get to him.

At the scene throughout the tragic event was local fire marshal M.B. Gordon, who heard the call for assistance while on his way to work at the McConnellsburg state police substation.

According to Gordon, he was the second to arrive on the scene after fire companies were dispatched shortly after 7 a.m. Eighteen fire companies, including McConnellsburg, responded to the call, resulting in 22 tankers and three tower trucks aiding in extinguishing the flames throughout the morning.

Flames and smoke were emanating from the northeastern corner and windows of the inn, Gordon said, when he arrived.

"I was inside the inn for about 15 minutes before the firefighters arrived," stated Gordon, who entered the historic building via a rear window he shattered with a shovel.

Meanwhile, a stepladder was brought in in hopes of accessing the second-floor but too much smoke hindered the group's efforts. Firefighters worked sideby side diligently knocking down the flames repeatedly, Gordon said.

With a small time frame allotted to them, Gordon stated, he along with Chambersburg fire marshal Jeffrey Sarver and Mercersburg, Montgomery, Peters and Warren Township (MMP&W) Fire Chief Dusty Stoner managed to enter the three-story building that had fallen in to the first floor.

"It was still burning at 11 a.m. when we went in and found Kayla's body," related Gordon. "They (the firefighters) had just knocked the flames back a second time when we were able to get her out."

"Everything that was above Kayla went crashing down to the first floor," said Gordon, who added the girl's body was practically lying out in the open aside from some ceiling beams that covered the area. After the trio exited with the toddler, the flames erupted a third time and were smothered after firefighters surrounded the inn.

Gordon noted each tanker on the scene brought approximately 2,000 gallons of water. The tankers, however, ran out of water and were forced to pump water out of the nearby Conococheague.

The fire, fire marshal Sarver stated, was likely caused by a propane heater attached to the wall in Fox's room. The heating unit was fueled by an outside propane line.

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