Suspicious fire destroys building in lumberyard

April 28, 1994

A fire that officials believe was set in piles of old tires burned out an abandoned lumberyard building last night in East Baltimore as firefighters were hampered by low water pressure.

Battalion Chief John Cole said firefighters arriving at the F. Bowie Smith Lumber Yard found flames spreading in the 1 1/2 -story building, which was about 150 by 75 feet in size.

Smoke from the building, near Ponca and Lombard streets, northwest of the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, billowed over the Harbor Tunnel Thruway

It took 30 firefighters two hours to bring the blaze under control. Streets several blocks away were closed to traffic as firefighters spread hoses up to a quarter-mile from the scene.

"We don't have enough water," Chief Cole said, moments after water stopped flowing to several firefighters perched high on aerial trucks. The chief said the closest hydrants were at the end of water lines, where the pressure is low.

Chief Cole said the cause of the fire appeared to be suspicious. He said the company that owns the cinder block and wood building was in the process of tearing it down.

No damage estimate was available last night, and no injuries were reported.

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