Baltimore health officials declare influenza alert

With the number of positive influenza tests rising sharply in the city, Baltimore health officials declared a flu alert yesterday. "We're really seeing sustained transmission of flu in Baltimore. Now is the time to protect yourself," said the city's health commissioner, Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein. Sentinel hospitals reported that 12 percent of flu tests last week came back positive, more than twice the rate for the previous week. There have been no deaths, but the Johns Hopkins Children's Center is treating a teenager who is critically ill with flu. "This is not just the sniffles. It can be very serious," Sharfstein said. Residents are urged to get flu shots, to wash their hands frequently, cough into a tissue or sleeve and stay home if they're sick. For more:


Frank D. Roylance

Burning cigarette blamed for fatal fire in Perry Hall


A fire that killed a 53-year-old man and injured five family members in Perry Hall last week was caused by an improperly discarded cigarette, Baltimore County fire investigators said yesterday. The fire began on a rear deck after someone failed to extinguish a cigarette, and the blaze spread to the house, officials said. The fire, which heavily damaged the two-story house in the 5000 block of Forge Haven Drive, was ruled an accident. Yan Chen, who suffered severe smoke inhalation and serious burns, died Saturday at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. His wife, son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren escaped with the help of neighbors. Chen had left the house unharmed but went back inside to try to help family members, fire officials said.

Patterson Park group files for Chapter 11

The Patterson Park Community Development Corp. has announced that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, noting the actions of one of its lenders and adverse conditions affecting the economy. Founded in 1996, the nonprofit organization - and the other corporations it helped foster - transformed Patterson Park from an ailing community into one of the city's most sought-after areas to live. The Community Development Corp. bought up more than 500 properties to prevent slumlords from getting them, rehabbed vacant houses and developed more than 170 rental homes for low-income residents. Corporation officials said Bradford Bank, which holds mortgages on several Patterson Park properties, obtained judgment liens against some of the properties and refused to release those liens in the course of negotiations for a possible forbearance agreement. Bank officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Brent Jones

Police, family identify body found in Elkridge

A body found this month at the edge of a wooded area in eastern Howard County has been identified as that of Cory Adams of Baltimore, according to police and a family member. Shavonda Graham, one of Adams' two sisters, said the family was notified by county police two days after the body was found Feb. 10 in Elkridge. Police said at the time that they did not suspect foul play, and Graham said her brother died of hypothermia. Adams, 38, had been homeless for about six years, Graham said.

Don Markus

State police trooper is struck on Beltway


A Maryland state trooper assigned to the Golden Ring Barracks in Baltimore County was injured last night when he was struck by a vehicle while issuing a ticket on the Beltway near Perring Parkway. His name was withheld pending notification of his family. Police said the operator of the moving vehicle stopped, and the incident was reported shortly before 7:30 p.m. The trooper was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center for injuries that police said were not life-threatening.

Richard Irwin