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Crime

Fire that torched Abell homes, including one with a pride flag, has been declared arson

Abell neighborhood resident Sherry Fennimore takes photos of Pride decorations that now adorn front porches of four houses damaged in a fire on E 31st Street in June 2022.

A fire that torched four Abell rowhouses in June, including one with an LGBTQ pride flag, has been determined to be arson, according to Baltimore fire officials.

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Baltimore fire department spokeswoman Blair Adams said the case has been turned over to police. Baltimore Police spokeswoman Lindsey Eldridge reported Wednesday that the case is an open investigation.

In the early morning of June 15, a fire torched four rowhouses, one of which had an LGBTQ pride flag hanging on its porch at East 31st Street. Three people were injured.

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Almost simultaneously, a fire was set to a pride flag hanging from a home across the street. This led some who live on the block to believe the fires were a hate crime. The fires occurred in the middle of Pride Month.

“We do not know if it was a hate crime or not. Although there’s always been some strong feelings about that,” Baltimore City Councilwoman and Abell resident Odette Ramos said Wednesday, adding that there were two other fires that day, a car and a dumpster fire, in the general neighborhood. “They are all connected,” she said. “And they are all arsons.”

In the days after the blaze, some neighbors picked up pride flags and flagpoles and displayed them at their homes. The items were passed out at a gathering after an Indiana-based company, which makes flags promoting progressive messages, donated more than 200 pride flags and had them shipped overnight.

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At least two cats perished in the blaze, but a missing cat named Festus has returned home, Ramos said. Another missing cat also has been found alive.

“The owners found Festus when the contractors went in to start cleaning the property,” Ramos said. “It turns out that Festus had come back to the house and was living there for a while because the poor cat had lost weight and broke in and tried to get the cat food.”

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This story will be updated.


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