A 5-year-old boy was killed early today when fire raced through a cinder block rowhouse in the 1300 block of Bunsen Way in O'Donnell Heights in southeast Baltimore.
Peter Christoforakis died at the scene from severe burns. Fire officials said Peter's body was found on the floor next to his bed in a second-floor rear room.
Peter's mother, Patricia McCauley, 24, is being treated for smoke inhalation at the Maryland Shock-Trauma Center. Her condition was upgraded from serious and stable to fair and stable.
The dead boy's grandmother, Georgia McCauley, 53, was treated for minor injuries at the emergency room at the University of Maryland Medical Center and released.
Harold McCauley, 63, Peter's grandfather, escaped with minor injuries.
Capt. Calvin Johnson, a Fire Department spokesman, said Firefighter David Mohr suffered second-degree burns in the blaze and was treated at Francis Scott Key Medical Center and released.
The one-alarm fire, reported at 12:53 a.m., destroyed the living room and kitchen of the first floor and a rear bedroom and bathroom upstairs, said Captain Johnson. The fire was controlled at 1:11 a.m.
Captain Johnson said the fire started in a living room chair where Harold McCauley had been sitting before he went to bed. "Apparently he left a cigarette or ash in the large chair," Captain Johnson said, adding that Mr. McCauley's wife, who was in the room with him, discovered the fire.
A smoke detector was in the house, but Captain Johnson said investigators couldn't determine whether it had worked.
The Rev. Robert Grumbine, a Fire Department chaplain, entered the charred remains of the house and gave Peter last rites as smoke continued to pour out of windows and flames licked at the roof.
Mr. Grumbine then left the house and went to the hospital to comfort Peter's mother and grandmother.
Relatives said that the boy's mother is divorced and that her former husband lives in Greece.
While firefighters went about extinguishing the remnants of the fire, neighbors stood watching in the rain or huddled under porch roofs.
"Why does it seem that little kids get the worst of it?" a neighbor said.
Southeastern District Officers Rick Iglehart and Patrick Stinnett said they were responding to a report of an assault in the 1300 block of Bunsen Way around 12:50 a.m. when they saw heavy smoke and flames coming from every window and doorway of the house, the end home in a row of about a dozen.
"There was no way either of us could have gotten into that house to help anyone," said Officer Iglehart.
He said that when he and Officer Stinnett turned onto Bunsen Way from Boston Street they saw a man and a woman standing on the porch roof of 1302 Bunsen Way.
The officers said they requested a patrol wagon so they could get on its roof and help the people down.
Before the wagon arrived, Officer Iglehart and a third policeman, Officer Drew Dorbert, persuaded Patricia McCauley and Kelly Williams, a neighbor, to jump, and caught them.
Patricia McCauley was nearly overcome from the smoke and was covered with soot. She was taken to an ambulance and given oxygen.
Officer Iglehart said Mr. Williams had climbed onto the porch roof in an effort to rescue the occupants but was driven back by flames. He escaped injury.
The elder McCauleys escaped through the front door.
For more than a half-hour after the fire was extinguished, family members from the city and Baltimore County gathered in front of 1308 Bunsen Way.
Not until the body of Peter Christoforakis was positively identified were they told the bad news.