The Baltimore Fire Department is reeling as the city has experienced the most fire deaths in a decade, Chief Niles R. Ford said Wednesday.
Twenty-eight people have died in fires with more than a week left to go in the year — more than half of them in just four incidents, according to the Fire Department.
While the number of victims has increased, the number of fatal fires, 17, is roughly in line with the department’s 10-year average of about 16.8 fatal fires per year, according to a Baltimore Sun review of state fire marshal data.
“You can feel a different mood when you go out there and talk to them,” the chief said, referring to his firefighters. “They were hoping we’d make it past this season and not have any [fatalities], but they know how the cold season is. Heating is a challenge.”
Baltimore has experienced more fatal fires in 2017 than at any point in the past five years, and is nearing the end of one of the worst years on record for fire deaths. Here's where they all occurred.
Speaking at Mayor Catherine E. Pugh’s weekly news conference at City Hall Wednesday, Ford encouraged residents to call 311 for free installation of 10-year, lithium-battery smoke detectors; to keep any live Christmas trees in their homes well-watered; and to keep any space heaters away from flammable items and plugged directly into wall outlets instead of extension cords.
“Unfortunately, this is our busy season, and we’re trying to encourage people to be safe and be careful,” Ford said.