Grandfather's efforts fail to rescue boy from fire 6-year-old dies in rowhouse blaze

March 01, 1993|By Patrick Gilbert | Patrick Gilbert,Staff Writer

An article Monday in The Sun about the death of a 6-year old boy in a fire in the Upper Park Heights area incorrectly listed the boy's school and address. The youngster attended Unseld's School and lived in the 4200 block of Pimlico Road.

The Sun regrets the errors.

"I tried every which way to get back in to get my baby out, but the heat -- the heat just wouldn't let me do it. I tried, believe me I tried. Lord how I tried."

Leon Jones Sr. stood shivering in the cold outside his fire-blackened, two-story rowhouse and described in anguish his unsuccessful efforts to save his 6-year-old grandson.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

"My neighbor and me tried to get in through the kitchen door, but the door was on fire," Mr. Jones said. "The heat was so intense it drove us off the porch."

City firefighters found the body of Delmonico Jones lying on the other side of that kitchen door, in the home in the 4300 block of Pimlico Road.

The youngster's death was the second fire fatality in Baltimore this year, according to the fire spokesman, Capt. Hector Torres.

Last year, there were 47 fire deaths, and 20 of the victims were children, he said.

Two female occupants of the house escaped with minor injuries when they leaped from second-floor windows, according to fire Battalion Chief Robert Breighner. They were identified by family members as Sabrina Penn, 33, the dead youngster's aunt, and Caldonia Jones, 52, his grandmother.

The fire officers said the intense one-alarm blaze was reported at 8:24 a.m., and declared under control an hour and five minutes later.

Captain Torres said the cause was believed to be an electrical malfunction in the basement. The fire remained under investigation, he said.

Mr. Jones, 62, said he was in the basement bathroom when he smelled smoke.

"I came out of the bathroom and I was met with flames coming down the basement steps," he said. "I started yelling for my wife and daughter to get out."

Thick smoke forced Mr. Jones to his knees, he said. "I crawled to the back cellar door and got out. I thought my baby was out too, but he wasn't."

The grandfather said he tried to get into the front of the house, but was driven back by the black smoke pouring from the windows.

Mr. Jones said the family was getting ready to attend services at the Imani Community Baptist Church, where his son is the pastor, when the fire started.

Delmonico was playing Nintendo in his second-floor bedroom while the adults finished getting dressed, he said.

"I don't know why he came down from the second floor and headed for the kitchen," said Mr. Jones. The kitchen was the hot spot for the fire, according to fire authorities.

The Rev. Leon Jones Jr. -- Mr. Jones' son and the dead youth's uncle -- described Delmonico as a sweet, fun-loving boy.

"He loved all kinds of sports, especially basketball and football," said the 42-year-old minister, who was not at home when the fire started. Delmonico was a first-grader at Martin Luther King Elementary School, he said.

Tressie Williams, who lives next door, said her son, Sterling Barnes, grew up with Delmonico. "They were best friends," she said.

Mrs. Williams said a girlfriend who was spending the night with her awoke and smelled smoke.

"She started screaming for me to get out of the house, that Mr. Leon's house was on fire," said Mrs. Williams, who called the 911 emergency number and reported the fire.

"I don't know how I'm going to tell Sterling that Delmonico is dead," said Mrs. Williams breaking into tears. "I guess there's no good way to tell an 8-year-old something like this."

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