Rowhouse fire takes 3 lives in N.E. Baltimore

April 04, 1994|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,Sun Staff Writer

A woman and her two children were killed early today in a fire that swept through a northeast Baltimore rowhouse at 6:12 a.m., fire department spokesman Hector Torres said.

The one-alarm fire, which claimed the city's 28th, 29th and 30th fire victims so far this year, began in the living room on the first floor and spread through the house, which is in the 1500 block of Winston Ave. off Loch Raven Boulevard in New Northwood.

One resident survived after he jumped to safety from a second-floor rear window. Raymond Jefferson, 24, was being treated for a fractured ankle at Key Medical Center, Battalion Chief Torres said.

The victims were Yvette Martinez, 26, and her sons, Chaz Johnson, 5, and Raymond Jefferson Jr., a 6-month-old infant who was Mr. Jefferson's son. All were carried from the house severely injured by smoke inhalation and were treated by paramedics in the front yard.

They died an hour later at area hospitals.

Last year, there was a total of 34 fire deaths. City fire officials said the deadliest year for fires was 1975, when 76 people died.

Battalion Chief Torres said careless smoking was the cause of today's fire. The house was equipped with a smoke detector that was beeping at the time of the blaze, he said.

Later, charred furniture and remains of the house were strewn on the front lawn still smoldering. Ms. Martinez' blue Honda with an infant car seat strapped in the front, was parked in front of the house.

Residents of the quiet neighborhood, which faces a deep, wooded ravine, had retreated to their homes, still shocked by the deadly fire.

A witness, Dorothy Daniels, said she was awakened by the sound of Mr. Jefferson crying in the back yard.

"Another neighbor was holding him because he was trying to get back into the house. He was crying and moaning loudly, saying, 'God, please don't let them be in there, please don't let them be in there,' " said Ms. Daniels, who lives in Atlanta and is visiting her mother, who lives two doors from the fire.

"I then looked out of the window and saw white smoke coming out. Then I heard the firefighters arrive and they said, 'Get up here! People are trapped.' "

Ms. Daniels said firefighters arrived quickly, but could not gain entrance to the house through the front door because it was locked with an iron security door. So they broke through a living room window.

"Then, flames shot out of the house," she said, hampering firefighters even more.

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