A dozen homes caught fire in Southwest Baltimore Friday after wind whipped flames from the burning roof of a vacant house into a five-alarm blaze involving buildings on several streets, officials said.
One firefighter was injured in the response and taken to a hospital and is in stable condition according to officials. No civilians were injured, but two of the houses were occupied, officials said.
Firefighters were called to the blaze in the 300 block of S. Fulton Ave. in Carrollton Ridge around 1:55 p.m. Friday, finding two vacant buildings in flames, said Assistant Baltimore City Fire Chief Charles Svehla.
The fire quickly spread to other unoccupied buildings in the 1800 block of Ramsay St. and to houses on both sides of South Fulton Avenue, said Svehla, adding that the wind may have fanned the flames and caused the fire to spread quickly.
The fire reached the 300 block of Mount St., where Roxana Guarvavo lives with two children, her roommate and her roommate’s son.
Guarvavo was at work when her 14-year-old son called her to tell her firefighters were ordering them to evacuate their home.
”He called me and said he was out of the house,” she said.
When she arrived, she watched smoke billow from behind her home. Around 3 p.m., Guarvavo stood outside with her children and their two husky dogs, watching fire crews on their roof.
Guarvavo said she’s used to the fires in her neighborhood, where she’s lived for six years. The fire department investigated the possibility of arson in the neighborhood after 11 fires happened within a 24-hour period in December.
Mayor Brandon Scott said during a news conference at the intersection of South Mount and McHenry streets he was “grateful civilians aren’t hurt” and that he hopes for a speedy recovery for the injured firefighter.
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Houses on more than one street were showing “heavy fire & smoke through the roof,” Baltimore City Fire Department spokeswoman Blair Adams tweeted.
The International Association of Fire Fighters Local 734, which represents Baltimore firefighters, tweeted that the fire also burned row homes on South Gilmor Street and Ramsay Street.
At 2:54 p.m., the union tweeted that the fire had been brought under control, adding that fire crews from surrounding counties aided efforts to extinguish the blaze.
City Councilman John Bullock, whose district includes Carrollton Ridge, raised the prospect that the fires may have been caused by arson.
“It’s an area that has been dealing with vacant homes for quite some time,” which means the neighborhood “winds up being a target” for arson and accidental fires caused by homeless persons who seek shelter in the abandoned buildings, Bullock said.
Thankfully, he added, first responders “came out very quickly to address the situation.”
Adams did not respond to a request for additional information late Friday, but said earlier in the day that fire investigators hadn’t yet determined a cause.