Careless smoking -- the leading cause of fire deaths in Baltimore last year -- was blamed yesterday for the death of a 47-year-old man whose charred body was found in the third-floor bedroom of a Pigtown row house.
Firefighters rescued a second occupant of the house, in the 800 block of Washington Boulevard, by taking him down a ladder from a third-floor front window, officials said.
The dead man, the first person to die in a Baltimore fire this year, was identified as Eugene Smith. He was found on the floor of a rear bedroom, said Capt. Patrick P. Flynn, a Fire Department spokesman.
The rescued man, 25-year-old David Reedy, was taken to University Hospital, where he was reported in stable condition after treatment for smoke inhalation, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The fire occurred directly across the street from the vacant building in which five homeless people who were seeking shelter from the cold died in a fire last year.
Captain Flynn said yesterday's single-alarm fire began in a sofa in a second-floor bedroom about 1:25 a.m. and then spread to the third floor where the two men were sleeping. Three other occupants of the house escaped without injury.
Some 45 firefighters with 12 pieces of apparatus brought the blaze under control within 45 minutes, officials said.
Fire investigators said careless smoking was the cause of the fire, which caused an estimated $35,000 damage.
Careless smoking was cited as the cause of 20 of the 29 fire deaths that occurred last year. Officials said that last year's total was the fewest number of fire fatalities recorded since 1938, when they began collecting such data.
The city did not record its first fire fatality last year until Jan. 22.