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Officials investigating two-alarm fire in Baltimore Highlands

Seven people escaped a two-alarm fire that destroyed a rowhouse in the Baltimore Highlands early Sunday morning without serious injury, officials said.

Four children were in the two-story home in the 3600 block of Roberts Place when the fire broke out just before 7 a.m., Fire Department spokeswoman Blair Adams said. Three were in good condition and one was stable, Adams said.

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Three adults who were in the home were in good condition, Adams said. All were taken to a hospital for evaluation and treatment.

A neighbor who ran into the home was uninjured, Adams said.

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Fire investigators have not determined a cause. Adams said there appeared to have been some type of gas explosion.

Baltimore Gas and Electric workers were on the scene, and gas was shut off to neighboring homes.

The fire was largely contained within an hour. The house was gutted; by 7:49 a.m., a single water hose was spraying water on the pile of wood and brick.

At least four adjoining homes were damaged. One of the adjoining homes was adorned with signs reading "No Loitering."

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Robert Neal, 44, lives in a house on the other side of the burned structure. The awning above his entrance was partially collapsed. The windows of rooms on the second floor were broken out.

"I could see the water going in my house," he said. "I know it's waterlogged. Other than that, I'll have to go in and take a lot of pictures."

Neal said he was awakened by a loud noise. "We were inside," he said. "All we felt was the shake. I looked out back and all there was was debris and fire."

His housemate, Arthur Wells, 65, was also home. "I woke up to a loud bang," he said. "I looked out the window and saw the house on fire."

The explosion shattered the driver's side window of Neal's pickup truck, parked across the street from the home.

"I'm wondering how much damage there will be," he said. Only smoky rubble and broken windows remained.

Neither man knew the family that lived in the collapsed home. "I think they just moved back in there the past month," Wells said. "It had been empty for a while."

The American Red Cross was on site to help those affected.

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