Woman injured in explosion, fire at city church

Propane tank hose breaks in kitchen as 3 women prepare food for sale

August 06, 1999|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,SUN STAFF

A woman was severely burned yesterday in a fire and explosion that seriously damaged a Northwest Baltimore church.

Vertina Harris was in critical condition in the burn unit at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, said a hospital spokeswoman. An age and address for Harris were not available.

Bishop Preston E. Williams, pastor of First Emmanuel Church Apostolic in the 4500 block of Reisterstown Road, said three women were in the second-floor kitchen preparing dinners to sell to raise money when a hose to a propane tank broke about 6 p.m.

Margaret Williams said she, Harris and a third woman heard an explosion, and Harris' upper body and clothing were engulfed in flames.

She said they ran downstairs and into the street where Ronald Carter, who was selling snowballs, threw water on Harris.

"I grabbed two buckets of water near my stand and threw water on the woman whose body and clothing was on fire, and two other men laid her down on the sidewalk," said Carter, 27.

A Fire Department medic suffered burns to his ears and also was treated at Bayview, said a Fire Department dispatcher. The medic's condition was unavailable.

Williams said the church was founded in 1983 and has about 75 members.

"We'll have to pray that God will help us in our time of need," he said, standing outside the extensively damaged brick building.

A Fire Department spokesman said the cause of the fire was being investigated.

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