Baby dies after fire destroys bedroom in Reisterstown house

Heat, smoke thwarted rescue attempts

Baltimore City/county

November 04, 1999|By Nancy A. Youssef | Nancy A. Youssef,SUN STAFF

A 14-month-old baby sleeping in her crib on the second floor of her Reisterstown home died yesterday afternoon after a fire engulfed her bedroom, despite neighbors' efforts to reach her, Baltimore County Fire Department officials said.

Fire officials said they are trying to determine the cause of the blaze, saying they need to speak with the mother of Shimieka Jenkins and with another child who was in the house at the time of the fire.

Neighbors said the incident began shortly before noon when the mother, also named Shimieka Jenkins, 21, ran out of her townhouse in the 100 block of Shropshire Court yelling for help.

Melvin Medley, 29, who was visiting a neighbor, ran into Jenkins'house and tried to reach the baby.

"He made it up about three quarters of the steps" before the smoke and heat overcame him, said Lt. Robert Rossman, a spokesman for the county fire department. Medley was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center suffering from smoke inhalation. He was treated and later released.

Mia Minter, 29, Medley's cousin, heard the commotion and also tried to help.

"I was upstairs, and I hear somebody say `Somebody help me!'" said Minter. "Then I saw smoke and I grabbed the phone and ran down the street calling 911."

Minter said she and another man also tried to enter the house but couldn't "because there was so much smoke and the heat was intense."

She added: "At the same time, I could hear the baby crying."

Fire officials, who received a call about the fire at 11: 56 a.m., were able to put out the blaze in 10 minutes and evacuated the baby, who had second- and third-degree burns on more than 50 percent of her body, said Rossman.

"I could see the baby open its eyes," Minter said.

The child was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she died at 1: 17 p.m.

Neither the mother nor the other child -- a preschool-age boy -- was injured, official said.

Jenkins has worked as a cashier since Oct. 14 at Ames Department Store in Reisterstown, store officials said.

Robin Hall, a store assistant manager, said Jenkins was friendly and told co-workers about her daughter. "Everybody feels really sad for her," said Hall.

The baby's death was the 14th fire this year compared with 12 for all of last year, said Battalion Chief Mark Hubbard said.

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