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O'Malley orders state flag to half-staff for Baltimore fire officer who died last week

Lt. James Bethea
Lt. James Bethea(Family photo)

Gov. Martin O'Malley has ordered the Maryland flag lowered to half-staff Thursday to honor Lt. James E. Bethea, a 40-year Baltimore firefighter who died in an East Baltimore blaze last week.

Bethea, 62, a fire safety officer, died of smoke inhalation Nov. 12 after falling through a floor at the vacant rowhouse, where he remained for hours before an off-duty firefighter happened to see his car outside and called for help, officials said.

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The investigation into his death is ongoing, and the department has created a new chief of safety position and a new rule requiring the last departing units to report to dispatchers that the scene is clear.

Bethea's funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St. Interment will follow at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens.

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