City had cited home as "unfit." BG&E had tagged furnace "unsafe."

GIRL DIES FURNACE BLAMED

March 11, 1992|By Bruce Reid and Michael James | Bruce Reid and Michael James,Staff Writers

The owner of a home in which a 2-year-old girl died of carbon monoxide poisoning had been ordered by city housing inspectors not to rent the East Baltimore property until it was re-inspected, a city housing official said today.

The landlord, Zelick A. Gresser, apparently disregarded the Feb. 14 order, said Bill Toohey, of the Department of Housing and Community Development.

Tiera Monet Moyd, the toddler who died last night, was a member of a family that began renting the house about a week ago, police said. The girl's mother, Tracy Barnett, 21, also was found suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. She was in serious but stable condition today at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Officials of Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. said the house had a faulty furnace and a clogged chimney that caused a buildup of the gas.

Mr. Toohey said a city housing inspector found the house, in the 1900 block of N. Patterson Park Ave., vacant and unfit to live in last month. The inspector told the landlord that he must have the house re-inspected before anyone moved in.

Mr. Toohey said the maximum fine for disregarding such an order is $500.

The Evening Sun reported last year, in an article on lead-paint contamination, that Mr. Gresser and two firms he owns, Inspired Homes and Zel Realty, had been repeatedly cited for lead-paint problems in rental properties. As of last year, Mr. Gresser owned 771 rental units in the city, the housing agency said.

Mr. Gresser could not be reached for comment.

At the Patterson Park Avenue house, the child's father, Kenneth Moyd, arrived at 6:40 p.m. and found the toddler and her mother unconscious, said Agent Arlene K. Jenkins, a police spokeswoman.

Agent Jenkins said homicide detective were conducting a "fact-finding" investigation, although police had no indication of a homicide.

Police said the child was found lying on a mattress in an upstairs bedroom. Ms. Barnett, having seizures and difficulty breathing, was lying a few feet away on the floor.

Police and BG&E officials were attempting to determine who turned on the furnace, which had been tagged as out of service by a company representative last week. BG&E officials said someone apparently tried to make repairs, since old parts were lying on the floor last night .

Arthur J. Slusark, a BG&E spokesman, said the air was heavily poisoned by carbon monoxide when company representatives arrived at the house last night.

The father told BG&E investigators that when he left for work yesterday, the furnace was turned off, Mr. Slusark said.

A BG&E service man visited the house March 4 at the request of the family, which wanted gas service turned on, Mr. Slusark said.

But the service man found that the furnace had several problems and he turned the gas service off, Mr. Slusark said. He also tagged the furnace with an "out of service" marker, he said.

In bold letters, the marker said: "Warning. An unsafe condition in your gas equipment has been found and the gas has been turned off for your protection."

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