Greenbelt fire victim identified as former nurse

The woman killed in the fire in Greenbelt on Friday has been identified and described as a former nurse.

Betty M. Starry, 86, was killed in the blaze where she lived on Laurel Hill Road, said Mark E. Brady, the chief spokesman for the department.

Neighbors had told authorities that she had escaped the fire but returned to the house to warn others, Brady has said.

He said Sunday that the circumstances surrounding the cause and origin of the blaze remained under investigation.

One of Starry’s sons, Scott, said Sunday that he could not confirm the account of how his mother had died. However, Scott Starry said, returning to a scene of danger to help others seemed like something she would do.

He said his mother had been a nurse for many years, working as a hospital nurse in Pittsburgh and as a school nurse in Delaware.

She was a registered nurse who had trained in a hospital in Indiana, Pa., as part of a group being prepared to serve in the armed forces during World War II, he said. “She was very proud of that.”

Two people were injured in the fire, authorities said. Starry said one was his brother, E. Randal Starry, who had jumped from a second-floor window and fractured a shoulder.

He is in a hospital awaiting surgery, Scott Starry said.

The second person injured was a caregiver for his mother, he said. She was released from a hospital after treatment for smoke inhalation, he said.

The row house where the fire broke out was one of the original homes in Greenbelt, a city that was built during the New Deal in 1937 as a planned community, said Greenbelt spokeswoman Beverly Palau.

She said fire fatalities in the city of about 22,000 have been rare.

Palau said she can remember only one other in the 23 years she has worked there. It occurred about 10 years ago, she said.

 
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