Apartment fire destroys 10 units in Owings Mills

No serious injuries reported in morning blaze

cause ruled an accident

March 06, 2003|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Five people were rescued by Baltimore County firefighters from an Owings Mills apartment building yesterday morning, including two men on third-floor balconies unable to get past flames and smoke that engulfed the brick building.

During a search of the Mill Towne Village Apartments after the three-alarm fire broke out, firefighters found three tenants with hearing impairments inside their apartments. As firefighters contained the flames in the other side of the building, the three were escorted outside, Capt. Glenn A. Blackwell said.

Three other residents of the building -- a 23-year-old woman, her 3-year-old daughter and 18-month-old son -- were taken to Northwest Hospital Center with minor injuries, Blackwell said.

The fire started about 10:15 a.m. in the three-story apartment house in the first block of Woodthorne Court. The fire appears to have started in a second-floor, end-unit apartment, according to Blackwell.

Investigators have ruled the blaze accidental, though they aren't sure how it started. No immediate estimate of monetary damage was available.

Eleven tenants were evaluated by emergency medical staff; six suffered smoke inhalation as they made their way out of the building, which had flames shooting through the roof, Blackwell said.

Rose Valbrun, 25, a nursing assistant, had just left her third-floor apartment to take her husband to work at a nearby gas station when the fire broke out.

Even though they are now homeless and lost all of their possessions -- including their Moroccan passports -- she said, "I feel lucky because we're alive."

The couple's two roommates were inside the apartment, Valbrun said, but managed to get out.

"Everything was dark," she said. "They were still sort of asleep."

Ten units were destroyed, Blackwell said. The Red Cross was called to find temporary housing for those families.

Yesterday's apartment fire was the second in eight days in Baltimore County.

A fire Feb. 25 in Pikesville left 31 tenants homeless. Police allege that blaze was started by three female teen-agers seeking revenge over a cable bill debt.

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