Fire in rowhouse units forces out 18 families No one injured in blaze in W. Baltimore apartments

December 30, 1996|By Erin Texeira | Erin Texeira,SUN STAFF

Dozens of people sifted through their damaged belongings yesterday, trying to salvage what they could after a four-alarm fire Saturday drove residents from their rowhouse apartments in West Baltimore, city fire officials said.

No one was injured in the blaze that began about 11 p.m. at 1027 W. Lanvale St., a three-story rowhouse containing several apartments, and spread to 1029 and 1031 W. Lanvale St. -- rowhouses that also contain apartments -- forcing the evacuation of 18 families, said Lt. Milton Gable of the Baltimore Fire Department.

Members of nine families that had nowhere to go were provided housing in local hotels and motels by the Red Cross, a spokeswoman for the relief agency said.

Others, including James Williams, 57, a custodial worker who has lived in the building for more than 15 years, stayed with friends and relatives.

"I'm just going to have to start all over again," Williams said as he loaded waterlogged kitchen and bedroom items into trash bags.

Shira Lee, 19, a student, tucked her undamaged cable box under an arm and grabbed a trash bag that she had filled with clothes. She was taking them two blocks to her grandmother's house.

"I'm leaving just about everything back there," she said. "Everything except the TV got destroyed."

The fire apparently began in a rear bedroom in a third-floor apartment at 1027 W. Lanvale St., residents said. The flames quickly spread to three other apartments in the building, then to the adjoining buildings, fire officials said. The cause was being investigated.

"It moved like lightning," said Calanda Jackson, 35, who lives nearby on Lanvale and whose grandson and daughter resided in the burned building. "I just can't believe no one got hurt," she said.

The fire was extinguished about 1: 20 a.m. yesterday but flared up in small areas throughout the morning, Gable said. The last fire was doused about 10 a.m., residents said.

The Red Cross offered the families food, clothing and shelter and a stipend equal to one month's rent, said Pat Lakatta, a Red Cross spokeswoman.

Pub Date: 12/30/96

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