11-month-old girl is killed in house fire House had no electricity. Fire started by candle.

June 19, 1992|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,Staff Writer Staff Writer Joe Nawrozki contributed to this story.

An 11-month-old girl was killed, her brother and sister overcome by smoke and two firefighters injured in a rowhouse fire last night that was started by a candle.

The electricity at the house in the 500 block of E. 23rd St. had been turned off because of non-payment of the utility bill, a spokesman for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said today.

The mother of the children was outside when the fire erupted but ran in and rescued one of her children, police said.

Two neighborhood residents entered the house with a friend of the mother and rescued another child.

Police identified the dead child as Dominique Brown, whose first birthday would have been July 7.

The surviving children, Wayne Campbell, 3, and Christine Brown, 19 months, were in stable condition today at Johns Hopkins Hospital after treatment for smoke inhalation.

The mother, Shalonda Anderson, 22, was not injured.

Lt. Dean Muscello, of Engine Company 31 in the 3100 block of Greenmount Ave., was treated at Mercy Medical Center for stress after he found the body of the victim in a second-floor

front bedroom.

Also taken to Mercy were Lt. Donald Fout Sr., of Engine Company 6, with burns of the neck, and Firefighter Harry Wagner, of the same engine company, minor burns of the right leg.

All three were released after treatment.

Capt. Robert Hatoff, fire investigator, said the fire began in a second-floor middle bedroom at 536 E. 23rd St. around 10:30 p.m. when a lighted candle fell onto the floor and ignited an unknown object.

In seconds, flames filled the middle bedroom and began burning the hallway and the top of the stairs.

Investigators believe all three children were in a second-floor front bedroom by the time rescuers entered the house.

David Armstrong, 42, of the 500 block of E. 23rd St., and Edward Walker, 30, of the 2000 block of Homewood Ave., said they had been standing at 23rd and Boone streets talking with friends when they saw flames and smoke pouring out of the second-floor front windows.

"Me and Eddie ran into the house and went upstairs and found one of the kids and carried him out," said Mr. Armstrong.

He said the entire second floor was burning. "There were flames and smoke all over the place and we had trouble seeing . . . ," he said.

Mr. Armstrong said a few seconds after he and Mr. Walker entered the house, Ms. Anderson and a friend, Charles Nicholson, whose address was not known, ran into the house and rescued the 3-year-old boy.

Dominique could not be reached because of the heavy smoke and flames, officials said.

Acting Police Sgt. Robert Cooper and Officer Charles Dawkins, both of the Eastern District, tried to entered the house but were forced to retreat when the stairway became engulfed in flames.

"There was no way we could get up there," said Sergeant Cooper.

Moments later, firefighters arrived and began extinguishing the flaming upper stairway and hall while trying to reach the fire-engulfed second floor.

Among the first firefighters inside the house was Lieutenant Muscello.

Minutes after the fire was extinguished, Lieutenant Muscello left the house holding the diaper-clad little girl in his arms and breathing into her mouth, trying to revive her.

Assisted by other firefighters, the nearly exhausted lieutenant was guided to a nearby ambulance, whose crew took the baby and placed her inside the vehicle.

She immediately was given oxygen but did not appeared to be responding.

Out of breath from attempting to revive the child and visibly upset over the infant's condition, the lieutenant was comforted at the scene by fellow firefighters as a crowd of more than 100 people gathered around the ambulance, anxious to learn if the baby had survived.

Police had to move the crowd back as the vehicle inched its way down the street.

Despite efforts by the ambulance crew and physicians and nurses in the hospital emergency room, Dominique was pronounced dead at 11:15 p.m. from severe smoke inhalation.

The fire was declared under control at 10:56 p.m..

It caused $10,000 damage to the structure and another $3,000 to its contents, said Captain Hatoff.

BG&E spokesman Art Slusark said the electrical power to the house was terminated Wednesday because the bill had not been paid.

He refused to discuss the account further except to say, "Customers are given every opportunity to pay their bills."

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