Pair of fires leave 1 dead, 3 injured

November 24, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Two unrelated fires yesterday claimed one life and injured two Baltimore firefighters and a civilian. The fires caused extensive damage to a Gardenville duplex and an O'Donnell Heights rowhouse.

Baltimore police identified the dead man as Jesse Le'Seur, 54. He was the 18th person to die in a city fire this year. The fire in which he died broke out in the two-story wood frame duplex in the 4100 block of St. Thomas Ave., in the Gardenville neighborhood of Northeast Baltimore. A cause has not been determined, but officials said events leading up to the fire are suspicious.

A neighbor called 911 at 8: 20 a.m. and reported that a man in his 20s was throwing furniture out of the windows. While police officers were driving to the house, another 911 call reported a fire.

Inspector Michael Maybin, a Fire Department spokesman, said arriving officers saw flames shooting from the first-floor windows. Firefighters extinguished the blaze in about 20 minutes, but said the first floor had extensive damage.

Maybin said Le'Seur's body was found lying on the second-floor landing at the top of the stairs. Battalion Chief Hector L. Torres said officials believe Le'Seur, who lived there, had thrown out the furniture.

Officials said they have learned that three people lived in the house, and that Le'Seur was the only person believed to be home when the fire broke out. Police said they have responded to that house five times since Jan. 1, for a burglary, assault and a family disturbance, and twice for disorderly conduct.

Two hours later, about 10: 30 a.m., firefighters were called to a rowhouse in the 1200 block of Demarcay Way in O'Donnell Heights, a public housing community in Southeast Baltimore near the Baltimore County line.

James Williams, a neighbor, said "the whole second story of the house was on fire" when firefighters arrived. "There was heavy fire and smoke coming out of the windows of the house. I heard someone screaming and yelling, and I called the Fire Department."

Two firefighters and one other person were injured. The firefighters were treated at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center for minor injuries and then released. The civilian declined medical treatment at the scene, Torres said.

Investigators said they have not determined a cause of that fire.

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