2 dead in fire at Baltimore assisted-living facility

Two people are dead and four hospitalized after a fire in West Baltimore early Friday.

Two people died and four people were hospitalized after a Friday morning fire at an assisted-living home in West Baltimore, city fire officials said.

The four people hospitalized were listed in critical condition Friday after the fire broke out about 2 a.m. in the 2800 block of Lawina Road in the Windsor Hills neighborhood, the Fire Department said.

The property was operated by Kozy Kottage, an assisted-living facility approved for eight beds. Fire officials said seven people were in the home at the time of the fire — six on the first floor and one on the second. Officials did not say if all of them were residents.

The two deaths bring the city to nine fire fatalities this year, according to Fire Department spokeswoman Blair Adams.

The fire was under control at 3:32 a.m., and no firefighters were injured, Adams said. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Fire officials have not released identities of the victims, but Jamie McHenry, 26, said her 47-year-old father, James McHenry-Bey, was killed in the fire.

McHenry said her father had multiple sclerosis and moved into the home about three years ago, after he could no longer walk and needed help with basic tasks, such as getting dressed and bathing, she said.

"It was close-knit; it seemed like it was family-oriented," McHenry said of the facility.

Because of his medical condition, McHenry-Bey couldn't leave the home, she said, so she would go to visit. She said she last saw him in December. McHenry said she hadn't been by lately in part because she's been busy with last-minute details for her wedding next month.

"He wouldn't have been able to be there anyway, but now he most definitely will not," she said. "With all the issues he was going through, it's amazing that it took a fire to take his life."

Terry Davis, 54, who lives next door to the home, said the building housed mostly elderly residents. He said he woke up about 2 a.m. to bright light coming through his bedroom window.

"It was like the sun was shining right through my window," he said. "It got brighter. I thought, 'Oh my God.'"

Davis woke up his girlfriend and called 911 as they made their way out of the home. Once outside, he said, he saw firefighters arriving on the scene, and some firefighters appeared to be giving CPR to a person in the front yard.

The two-story, 2,500-square-foot structure was built in 1924 and was purchased by the current owner in 2008, according to state tax records.

The home is in good standing with the state health department's Office of Health Care Quality, which means it is licensed, up to date on its inspections and has a corrective plan of action for any problems identified, said Brittany Fowler, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The most recent inspection, on Jan. 5, cited the facility for not maintaining an updated roster as part of its emergency and disaster plan. Assisted-living facilities are required to review their emergency and disaster plan annually and update as necessary.

State inspectors found that the roster with the emergency plan listed nine residents, when only five people were living there at the time, and concluded the plan was not being updated as necessary.

Shauntee Monroe and her fiance, Stephen Mitchell, were driving in the neighborhood when they saw the smoke and flames, and stopped to offer help.

Monroe said a woman was at the front doorway of the home, trying to get two elderly women outside. Monroe and the woman helped one woman to the front yard and Monroe gave her her coat because the elderly woman's clothes had been burned off.

"I wish I could've done more.... I feel bad for the ones who didn't make it," Monroe said.



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