Early morning blaze displaces 14 Northeast Baltimore families

October 25, 1992|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff Writer

An early morning electrical fire at the Hamilton Ridge apartment complex in Northeast Baltimore caused $130,000 in damage and forced 14 families out of their homes.

The fire broke out in the storage room of a building in the 4800 block of Hamilton Ave. at 4:38 a.m. and spread to the adjoining building, said city fire department spokesman Capt. Hector Torres.

Twenty-two garden apartments were damaged by fire, smoke or water, Captain Torres said. None of the residents was injured, but at least three cats were killed in the blaze, residents said. The complex is comprised of 132 units.

Yesterday, those who lived in the damaged apartments gathered their belongings and were moving to other apartments in the neighborhood, said Carol Budnichuk, the complex's leasing agent.

"We are doing everything we can to help these people," she said.

The two-alarm blaze rousted residents out of bed as smoke creeped from the storage room to the apartments above.

"The smoke detector in my apartment went off, and when I tTC walked out to the living room there was smoke everywhere," said Cloyd Connelly, 56, who lives just above the storage room.

"I could feel the heat through the front door, so I walked out on the balcony and a policeman with a ladder helped me get out."

John Williams, 13, who lives on the third floor, said the smell of smoke woke him up.

"I could see the smoke coming through the cracks around the door," he said.

Eric Faison, 26, who lives with the Williams youth, said firefighters helped him and several others in the apartment with him climb down a ladder from a bedroom window.

Patricia Ritter, 49, who lives in the bottom-floor apartment next to the storage room where the fire started, said she heard screaming outside and walked onto her patio.

"That's when I saw all the police and fire people outside," she said. "They were screaming at us to get out but my boyfriend is in a wheelchair, and I had to go back in and get him."

By then, the smoke had filled her apartment, and she was coughing.

"I'm just glad my mother is in the hospital," she said. "She's an invalid and if she would have been home, I would have had to get her out, too. I would really have panicked."

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