Why We Search: Maryland Father Tries to Save Son in Abandoned House Fire

Abandoned home in Harford County becomes the scene of two rescues.

Note: Vacant, abandoned buildings are always a heated topic in fire service discussions. In sharing this latest "Why We Search" incident we do not want our readers to mistake our intent. The purpose of making these stories known to you is to first make you aware that unless the fire and building conditions, coupled with your fire department training and on scene resources, allow you to make a smart, safe search you cannot tell from the exterior state alone that a vacant building is unoccupied. Secondly, the idea that the only people trapped inside vacant, abandoned buildings are the dregs of society and not worthy of our utmost, fullest measure, is a completely foolish and ignorant belief. Vacant, abandoned buildings are known to have many types of people inside them for one reason or another, and not every single squatter is a alcoholic, drug abuser. Finally, the notion that a complete, unwavering, no search whatsoever policy for vacant and abandoned buildings based on the sole purpose of keeping firefighters alive is ignorant as well. If this relationship of vacant buildings and firefighter deaths were true, then the fire service may as well not even respond to fires at all, considering the number of fatal apparatus accidents.

We, as always, urge you to operate according to your department policies and at the same time, use smart firefighting tactics.

– Bill

An abandoned farm house in Maryland's Harford County was the scene of a tragic two alarm fire. Despite being secure, according to the proprieter, the home on the 56-acre property was well known as a gathering place for youth. Kevin McKeown was looking for his 20-year old son Conner, whose friends had directed the father to the farm. As Kevin approached he could see the house was on fire. The elder McKeown called 911 and then entered the home to search for his son. When fire companies arrived, they rescued father and son, who was found in the basement. Kevin McKeown suffered minor burns and his son Connor died. The cause of death and fire have not been determined by the time local media presented the stories.


Father's search for son ends in tragedy at burning house, ABC2
UPDATE: Fire Victim Had Been Trespassing, BelAir Patch
Man, 20, Killed In Baldwin Blaze, WBAL
Two Alarm Fatal Fire (images), Fallston VFD website
Two Alarm House Fire with Rescue, Belair VFD website

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