One house fire follows other in Walbrook 2 empty dwellings burn

arson suspected in both

March 21, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Firefighters battling a three-alarm blaze that leveled a vacant Victorian-era house in Walbrook early yesterday were dousing the last embers when the sky was lighted up again by another fire two blocks away.

It was another vacant Victorian-era house, and four alarms sounded, bringing firefighters from across the city to Northwest Baltimore. Both fires are being investigated as arsons.

Police and fire officials said they are trying to determine whether the fires were set by the same people. Neighbors told investigators that the boarded-up properties were used by drug dealers and addicts.

"Certainly, the fact they were two blocks apart can lead to some speculation that the same person set the second fire," said Battalion Chief Hector L. Torres. "It's very coincidental. It does raise suspicions."

Police Arson Detective Leo Furman said yesterday that there were no firm leads but that investigators think junk was set afire ++ in both homes. "We know where it started; we don't know how it started," he said.

No one was thought to be inside either property when the fires broke out.

Three firefighters were injured. Firefighter Todd Riley, 35, suffered a broken leg when he got his foot caught in a ladder; another injured his knee in a fall; and a third was treated for exhaustion.

Torres said the first fire was reported about midnight in the 3600 block of Clifton Ave., near Walbrook High School. It took more than 60 firefighters 2 1/2 hours to bring it under control.

About 2: 30 a.m., a fire investigator saw flames at a house in the 2100 block of Chelsea Terrace, around the corner. Flames from that fire threatened an occupied house next door, but the residents were evacuated safely.

Pub Date: 3/21/98

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