Man killed, two firefighters injured in West Baltimore rowhouse blaze


A fire yesterday in a West Baltimore rowhouse killed a man in his 90s and critically injured a firefighter who fell 20 feet from a ladder and landed on the oxygen tank strapped to his back.

Karl Zimmerman, 36, a nine-year department veteran, suffered at least one crushed vertebrae and was being treated at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, said Battalion Chief Hector L. Torres.

"It appears there has not been any damage to the spinal cord," said Torres, a department spokesman. "He does have sensation to his extremities."

The two-alarm fire was reported about 10: 45 a.m. in a three-story brick rowhouse in the 900 block of W. Fayette St. Firefighters found the lone occupant huddled in an alcove next to a second-floor bathroom.

Torres said the man suffered a heart attack and was pronounced dead at Shock Trauma. An autopsy is scheduled for today. Police said they were having troubling locating relatives and did not release his name.

The man is the fourth person to die in a Baltimore fire this year and the second fatality this week. All of the victims have been older than age 72. Last year at this time, 14 people had died.

Investigators did not have a cause of yesterday's fire.

Firefighters were seen removing kerosene heaters from the house. "We're not sure if that is the cause, but it is being looked at," Torres said, adding that the fire started on the second floor.

Zimmerman fell off the ladder as he tried to get inside a second-story window. The firefighter is assigned to a team responsible for some of the most dangerous and difficult operations.

A second firefighter suffered second-degree burns on his wrist and was treated at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Pub Date: 2/18/99

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