Candle left burning blamed in city fire that kills boy, 12

Three siblings, mother survive west-side blaze

November 01, 2003|By Matt Whittaker and Del Quentin Wilber | Matt Whittaker and Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF WRITERS

A fire that swept through a West Baltimore rowhouse early yesterday, killing a 12-year-old boy and injuring his mother and three siblings who leaped from a second-floor window, was caused by a candle left burning on the first floor, the mother said last night.

Relatives identified the 12-year-old as Marcus Rawl, who died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

His mother, LaTinyua Rawl, said flames from the candle ignited the stand, and the blaze spread through the house.

"I want my Marcus back," she said through sobs. "That's what I want." He was a good student at Matthew A. Henson Elementary School, she said, and "he loved to draw."

LaTinyua Rawl, 31, and her 13-year-old daughter, Latifa Rawl, were treated at Shock Trauma and released. Her son DaShown Rawl, 9, was in fair condition last night at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Her son Christopher White, 11, was not injured, according to a family member, and her daughter Shareka Haney, 16, was not at the house when the fire broke out.

Fire officials said the blaze began about 2:30 a.m. in the rowhouse in the 2200 block of Westwood Ave. and quickly forced the mother and three of the children to jump to safety.

After firefighters arrived, they rushed up to the home's second floor and found Marcus in a bedroom in cardiac arrest from apparent smoke inhalation, fire officials said. The house had a smoke detector but there were no batteries in the device, they said.

Joseph Beatty, a neighbor, said he heard screams and ran outside to see what was happening.

"I heard some howling in the back," he said.

When he reached Westwood Avenue, he spotted LaTinyua Rawl and three children who were scrambling to leap from upstairs windows.

They jumped, said Beatty, adding that he helped break their falls.

The mother said that one of her sons was in the house, so Beatty and another man tried to kick in a door to help him. "The smoke and the heat was so thick" that he was forced back, Beatty said.

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