Fire ravages glass factory after last shift

January 23, 1994|By Timothy B. Wheeler and Peter Hermann | Timothy B. Wheeler and Peter Hermann,Staff Writers

A four-alarm fire, which apparently started after the evening's last shift ended work, burned a glass medicine bottle factory in Southwest Baltimore last night, causing more than $1.1 million in damages.

The fire, reported just before 9 p.m., ripped through the plant of Glass Vials Inc. at 1352 James St. and forced the evacuation of five neighboring rowhouses.

Forty pieces of fire equipment and 125 firefighters battled the blaze in the two-story brick, flat-roofed building, but it was not under control 90 minutes later.

"When I pulled up, there was just a little bit of smoke coming from the building," said Officer Zackery Parker, of the Southern District. "Then all of a sudden it erupted. It must have been burning from the inside."

Firefighters were forced to fight the fire from outside because of fear that the building would collapse, said Battalion Chief Hector L. Torres, the city fire department spokesman.

Even 90 minutes after the fire started, flames leaped from the top of the building, which is between James and Glyndon streets.

The first fire fighters on the scene entered the building, but quickly found the blaze in the corner nearest Glyndon Street and retreated outside as the fire rapidly spread and escalated, the spokesman said.

The fire's cause was unknown, said Chief Torres. The owner of the building, who would not give his name, told fire officials the blaze did $1 million worth of damage to the building's contents and $150,000 worth of damage to the building.

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