Man dead in Northeast Baltimore fire, 25th fire fatality this year

A man died in a rowhouse fire early Wednesday in Northeast Baltimore — the 25th person to be killed in a fire this year, the Fire Department said.

The fire was placed under control after midnight after gutting a two-story rowhouse in the 2000 block of Belair Road, across the street from the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation’s old cemetery, officials said.

The victim, who was not identified Wednesday, was found dead inside the home. No one else was injured. The cause of death will be determined by an autopsy, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

The 25 fire-related fatalities in the city in 2017 are the most in the last five years, and represent an increase of more than 56 percent from the 16 fire deaths in 2016.

Fire Department spokeswoman Blair Skinner attributed the rise, in part, to the Jan. 12 blaze on Springwood Avenue that killed six of the Malone family’s children in one night.

That fire alone was responsible for nearly a quarter of the fire deaths this year. After more than 100 days of investigating that blaze, the Fire Department said it was unable to find the cause.

Skinner also noted that a March 3 blaze killed four senior citizens at an assisted-living facility on Lawina Avenue in Northwest Baltimore. A double-fatal fire occurred in the 1200 block of Greenmount Ave. two weeks later.

“These happen to be isolated incidents involving multiple people,” Skinner wrote in a statement.

Most of last year’s 16 fire deaths happened in the final month of the year, when temperatures dropped, and Skinner said the Fire Department has been encouraging city residents to take advantage of free smoke alarm installations.

“As we enter the winter months, we have been aggressively speaking with the community — through our smoke alarm sweeps and going into the community to talk about fire safety and installing free 10-year lithium smoke alarms in the homes of residents within the City of Baltimore,” she wrote. “Safety is our number one priority mand our ultimate goal is to have zero fire deaths.”

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