A woman and her two infant sons died early today when a fire apparently caused by careless smoking raced through their first-floor apartment in northwest Baltimore, fire officials said.
Three other residents of the three-story brick apartment building in the 2300 block of Ocala Ave. near Druid Hill Park suffered smoke inhalation and other injuries in the two-alarm blaze and were taken to separate hospitals for treatment.
The injured included a woman who jumped with a child from a side window of their second-floor apartment.
Killed were Ramona Collins, 34, and two sons, Malcolm King Jr., 18 months, and Martineze King, 6 months. Another son, Quincy Collins, 11, was critically injured, fire officials said.
"I was watching TV when it began," said Doretha Ragland, 27, who lives on the building's second floor. "All of a sudden I saw smoke all in my hallway. I got my kids up and called the fire department."
Fire Capt. Patrick Flynn said the fire began in the first-floor apartment occupied by Collins and filled the dwelling with thick smoke and flames.
Flynn said the fire apparently was ignited by Collins from smoking on a sofa in the living room.
"It was a smoldering fire. We don't know how long it was going on before it was noticed," Flynn said. The apartment was not equipped with a smoke detector.
The first firefighters on the scene about 3 a.m. found the woman's body in the living room. In a rear bedroom were her three children.
Flynn said the youngest child was found in a crib, the middle boy on the floor, and the 11-year-old on the bed. The two younger boys were found unconscious.
Fire officials said both infants appeared to be in full cardiac arrest and were rushed by ambulance to the Shock-Trauma Center in Baltimore, where they died a short time later.
The 11-year-old boy was rushed to Sinai Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. Building residents said the boy is a student at Gwynns Falls Elementary School.
Flynn said Bernadette Sutters, 34, and her daughter, Ouana Harris, 8, who lived in the apartment directly overhead, jumped from their bedroom window into an alley next to the building.
The woman was admitted to Sinai Hospital with a back injury, and child was admitted to the pediatric unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital with a broken leg.
Fire officials said the Collins woman's apartment had no electricity. The apartment was burned out, and other apartments had smoke damage.