Two fires in the city damage houses

Firefighters rescue residents and pets

November 13, 2001|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Firefighters rescued several residents and animals yesterday afternoon as three-alarm and four-alarm fires ripped through houses in Baltimore, causing extensive damage and leaving dozens of people homeless.

Two firefighters suffered minor burns in a four-alarm fire in the 900 block of N. Calvert St. and were taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center for treatment, fire officials said.

About 3:30 p.m., a fire started in apartments at 934-936 N. Calvert St., and heavy black smoke quickly filled the building. Bob Gimmill, 31, who lives in a first-floor apartment next door, said he heard a loud bang while he was watching television. A few minutes later, people pounded on his door and told him to get out.

"I threw my jacket on and ran out," said Gimmill, whose kitchen was destroyed in the fire. He also was worried about water damage to his clothes and electronics.

Jacqueline Handy, 50, was watching television in her first-floor apartment in the burning building when her smoke detector sounded. Neighbors knocked on her door, and when she opened it, she was confronted by a large plume of smoke.

"I couldn't get out," she said. "I knew I couldn't get out the window, but I had to come out the window."

Handy stood by her open window until a firefighter put up a ladder and helped her out.

Firefighters then helped a man with prosthetic legs climb down a ladder from a neighboring apartment, which appeared to be spared from the blaze. They also rescued several dogs and cats from neighboring buildings.

Elyse Miqueli, 20, was driving up to her apartment building when she saw flames and smoke pouring out of the building next door. She then saw her 1-year-old dog clawing at her third-floor window and a hand pull him away - a firefighter had rescued him. "I was so happy," she said.

The owner of the building is William J. O'Hara of Hunt Valley, state records show. O'Hara could not be reached for comment.

As firefighters got the blaze under control, which took about an hour, other firefighters battled a three-alarm fire in Northwest Baltimore.

That fire started about 3 p.m. in a two-story house in the 3200 block of Vickers Road, said Michael M. Maybin, a Fire Department spokesman. Firefighters helped several people evacuate the building, Maybin said.

Firefighters also got that blaze under control in about an hour.

Both fires are under investigation. Fire officials did not have damage estimates.

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