Two people pronounced dead in Baltimore fire

Two elderly people died Thursday afternoon after being pulled from a burning home near Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore fire officials said.

Mark Wagner, assistant chief of operations at the Baltimore Fire Department, said a man and woman were found in a front, first-floor room and taken in grave condition to Union Memorial Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

The two deaths would push the number of people killed in fires in Baltimore this year to 16 after another man was killed in a fire Wednesday. Last year, 12 people died in fires in the city, an all-time low.

On Wednesday, Edward Clark, 81, a fixture in adult softball leagues and a former Baltimore Department of Recreation and Parks employee, died of smoke inhalation after his Northwest Baltimore home caught fire.

Thursday's fire appears to have started in a middle room on the first floor of the two-story duplex in the 5100 block of Underwood Road, Wagner said. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Fire officials did not release the identities of the victims on Thursday, and neighbors said the occupants of the home kept to themselves.

Baltimore City property records show the home is owned by John J. Lebatell and Rita M. Lebatell, both 88. They could not be reached by phone. The duplex is in the Radnor-Winston neighborhood, adjacent to Loyola's campus.

Whitney Sherman, an illustrator who lives on a street parallel to Underwood Road, said she saw firefighters trying to resuscitate the victims. Sherman said she didn't know either of the home's occupants.

More than 50 firefighters responded to Thursday's blaze after someone called 911 shortly before 1 p.m., Wagner said. Firefighters encountered smoke on both floors and brought the fire under control by 1:48 p.m.

Baltimore Sun reporter Carrie Wells contributed to this article.

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