Fire kills couple in apartment above grocery store

The Baltimore Sun

Two people were killed early yesterday in a fire at an East Baltimore corner grocery store.

Firefighters responded to the report of a fire in the 2400 block of Jefferson St. at 12:30 a.m., said Chief Kevin Cartwright, a Fire Department spokesman. They found heavy fire and smoke at the two-story brick store, which has an apartment above it. When they searched the building, they found a man and woman who were unconscious and not breathing in the front room on the second floor, Cartwright said.

The victims were identified as Hao Lin, 24, and Mei Su, 23, he said. Neighbors said the two ran the Dalite Food Market on the first floor.

The fire was contained to the grocery store building, which had no visible signs of working smoke detectors, the spokesman said. This year, 17 people have died in fires - seven in buildings without working smoke detectors.

The building, which is about four blocks north of Patterson Park, had grates on the windows of the front room where the couple slept, he said.

Firefighters spent about a half-hour extinguishing the blaze. No other injuries were reported.

Investigators have not determined the cause of the fire, but they did not see evidence that it was deliberately or maliciously set, Cartwright said.

Yesterday morning, workers salvaged equipment from the burned-out building.

A man who said he was a cousin of the victims but did not want to be identified said the couple had operated the store for about a year. They had left a baby behind in China, he said.

Neighbors left teddy bears and a poster reading, "May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow."

"They were good people," said Deidra White, who lives nearby. "Everybody loved these people."

Pamela Harvey, who had left some of the bears, said the couple were well-liked. "He did things the right way," she said.

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