Group home where 2 died said to meet safety rules

State inspected facility in Balto. Co. before fire

March 15, 2003|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

State investigators say it appears that all regulations were followed by the operators of a group home for hearing-impaired men in Randallstown where a fire killed two residents March 6.

Inspectors from Maryland's Office of Heath Care Quality found that the group home at the Woodridge Apartments complex was fully staffed. Requirements, such as having a working smoke detector, also were met, said J.B. Hanson, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The investigators, who regulate group homes and assisted-living facilities, had inspected the site operated by Community Support Services for the Deaf about a week before the fatal fire, Hanson said.

"It received a clean bill of health," he said. "Everything was in working order."

The fire started in a ground-floor apartment rented by the group home in the 3900 block of Noyles Court, county officials said.

Fire investigators determined that the blaze began on a stove and that the cause was accidental, said Capt. Glenn A. Blackwell, a county Fire Department spokesman.

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 the morning of the fire, Blackwell said.

Delano Thomas, 32, a resident, was killed in the three-alarm fire, which caused about $62,000 in property damage and forced firefighters to rescue several neighbors from their balconies.

On Tuesday, a second resident, Nevalon Mitchell, 38, died of his injuries at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Mitchell's family said they didn't realize that the live-in caretaker was hearing-impaired and had concerns about how the group home was run.

Administrators of the group home did not return repeated calls for comment.

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