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Ten displaced in West Baltimore after vacant rowhouse fire spreads; firefighter injured in separate blaze, officials say

Three fires in Baltimore over a span of roughly 12 hours Friday and Saturday displaced 10 residents and left a firefighter injured. The fires occurred as city officials planned to gather Saturday to promote safety precautions at the scene of a fatal fire last month.

The first fire broke out at a vacant rowhouse in West Baltimore around 5 p.m. Friday and spread to three neighboring homes, forcing some residents out of their homes, said Blair Adams, Baltimore fire department spokeswoman. A second fire broke out early Saturday in a home near Clifton Park.

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And Adams said a firefighter was injured around 4:30 a.m. Saturday after falling one story while battling a blaze at a two-story building in Southeast Baltimore. The firefighter sustained non life-threatening injuries.

Four hours after members of his department suppressed the latest fire, Chief Niles Ford joined Mayor Brandon Scott, City Council President Nick Mosby and District 13 Councilman Antonio Glover to discuss fire safety in the 1500 block of Patterson Park Ave., where a mother and two of her children were killed and five other kids injured when a fire on Nov. 22 engulfed a two-story rowhouse.

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The officials’ message in that block of the city’s Broadway East neighborhood Saturday focused on the simple — and free — measures available to residents to mitigate the risk of another deadly blaze, according to Adams. She said the department credits working smoke alarms in the rowhouse where the fatal fire occurred for allowing six residents to escape.

“They save lives,” Adams said. “They’re your first line of defense.”

Any city resident can dial 311 and ask the operator for a fire department safety sweep, where firefighters can install smoke alarms, assist with escape plans and ensure each home has two clutter-free exits to utilize in the event of a fire.

“We’ll be right there,” Adams said. “Again, it’s free.”

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Their message is especially important during cold months, when some residents are forced to turn to alternative heating methods to stay warm, measures fire officials say can increase the risk of fire.

Baltimore City Fire Chief Niles Ford speaks at a news conference during which he and other officials visited the 1500 block of N. Patterson Park Avenue, the scene of a recent fatal fire, to encourage the use of free smoke detectors that are provided by the City. December 4, 2021
Baltimore City Fire Chief Niles Ford speaks at a news conference during which he and other officials visited the 1500 block of N. Patterson Park Avenue, the scene of a recent fatal fire, to encourage the use of free smoke detectors that are provided by the City. December 4, 2021 (Barbara Haddock Taylor/Baltimore Sun)

Adams offered tips, like keeping space heaters at least three feet from anything flammable, after Baltimore firefighters extinguished five fires in about 24 hours around the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s still unclear if there were any similarities in the manner in which those fires sparked.

On Friday, Firefighters arrived around 5 p.m. to find heavy flames emanating from the vacant rowhouse in the 1500 block of Argyle Ave.

Soon, Adams said, the blaze began to spread to adjacent homes, prompting firefighters to call for backup in the city’s Upton neighborhood.

The fire spread to three other rowhomes, two of which were occupied, Adams said. All of the occupants were able to escape. She couldn’t say how many people were displaced from each home.

Adams said the fire department called neighborhood services to assist those who were displaced, including finding temporary shelter. The cause of the fire is under investigation, she said.

The next fire happened around 2:30 a.m.

Firefighters arrived in the 2000 block of N. Washington St., a few blocks from Clifton Park, to find heavy flames visible on the first and second stories of an end unit rowhome.

Adams said she did not know whether the residence was occupied, but said the department did not ask for neighborhood services’ assistance.

The fire was under control by about 3:30 a.m., with no injuries reported, she said. Investigators will look into what prompted the blaze.

About 90 minutes later, firefighters went to the intersection of Grundy and E. Lombard streets in response to a call about a fire, Adams said.

Smoke was showing from the outside of an unoccupied building and firefighters found flames once inside, she said. The firefighter was injured performing “interior operations.”

“We did have a firefighter who fell from the second floor to the first floor,” Adams said. “(The firefighter) was immediately pulled out.”

She said the firefighter was taken to a hospital with non life-threatening injuries, while colleagues put out the fire by 5 a.m. The cause is under investigation.

Adams could not immediately provide an update on the firefighter’s condition Saturday afternoon.

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