The Baltimore City Fire Department was called to free book outlet The Book Thing at about 5 a.m. for a report of a fire. The fire in the Abell warehouse was under control shortly after arrival, executive director Russell Wattenberg said as he stood in smoke-scented water and literature in the warehouse's back room, but he is still puzzled by the cause.
"They're investigating," he said. "We're devastated. We're not even sure what the insurance will cover as all the books were free."
Outside, neighbors milled around the piles of scorched magazines and books whose odor wafted through the morning air.
"It's horrible," said Anna, an Abell Avenue resident who did not give her last name. "I hope they can reopen."
The Book Thing moved to its current location more than a decade ago after vacating its original spot at 27th and Charles streets, according to Wattenberg, and housed thousands of books.