Man dies, 3 hurt in three-alarm fire in Randallstown

Blaze apparently started in kitchen of group home for the hearing-impaired

March 07, 2003|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

A 32-year-old man died yesterday in an early-morning Randallstown apartment fire that injured three others and forced dozens of trapped residents onto balconies gasping for air, fire officials said.

Delano Thomas, who was killed in the three-alarm blaze that began about 4 a.m., lived in a ground-level apartment that was a group home for hearing-impaired adults. Three other men who lived in the home where the fire began were hospitalized, county officials said.

About 20 residents of the Woodridge Apartments were rescued by firefighters who took them down from second- and third-story balconies on ladders, said Capt. James Korn, a Baltimore County Fire Department spokesman.

Two men who lived in the group home, Phillip Jobes, 35, and Aaron Bassett, 26, were treated at Maryland Shock Trauma Center and released, a hospital spokeswoman said. Another man who lived there, Nevalon Mitchell, 38, was treated at Northwest Hospital Center and released, a hospital spokeswoman said.

It appeared that the fire in the 3900 block of Noyes Circle started accidentally in the group home's kitchen, but investigators were trying to determine how it began, Korn said.

A smoke detector with a flashing light and an extra loud siren designed for hearing-impaired residents had been installed in the apartment and was working, he said.

Managers from Community Support Services for the Deaf, the Randallstown-based company that operates the group home, could not be reached for comment.

Investigators from Maryland's Office of Health Care Quality, which regulates assisted-living and group homes, went to the site to review the situation, said J.B. Hanson, a state Heath Department spokesman.

The apartment building contained 11 other units, Korn said. Because of smoke and water damage, all of those residents were displaced, he said.

Yesterday's fire was the second in as many days at a Baltimore County apartment complex. A fire Wednesday destroyed a garden-style apartment building in Owings Mills, injuring three residents and leaving more than a dozen homeless.

Last week, an arson at an Owings Mills apartment building left 31 residents homeless.

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