2 kids killed in blaze in city

3rd child critical after fire strikes rowhouse at 3 a.m.

Victims found on second floor

Youngsters had been left unsupervised, officials say

January 02, 2004|By David Nitkin and Jessica Valdez | David Nitkin and Jessica Valdez,SUN STAFF

Two children were killed and a third seriously injured early yesterday in a fire that consumed a West Baltimore rowhouse where they had been left unsupervised, fire officials said.

The fire began shortly after 3 a.m. on the first floor of the home in the 2900 block of Windsor Ave., said Baltimore Fire Department spokesman Kevin Cartwright.

While one group of firefighters doused flames, another searched the home, finding three children on the second floor, Cartwright said. The cause of the fire was unknown yesterday, according to the spokesman.

"There were no reports of anyone else in the home at that time," Cartwright said.

Officials would not release the names of the dead children, pending an investigation by fire and police as well as the city Department of Social Services. Neighbors said that two children, a girl, Diamond Van Dyke, 9, and a boy, Anthony Van Dyke, 6, lived at the house with their parents.

Fire officials identified the injured child as Jocelyn Walker, 8, who was in critical condition last night at the University of Maryland Medical Center pediatric intensive care unit.

State property records show that the home, a brick rowhouse built in 1916, is owned by Anthony Van Dyke Jr. and Rashunda Van Dyke. Neither could be reached for comment.

With fire-damaged toys and clothes littering the front yard and porch of the house yesterday, neighbors expressed sorrow over two young lives lost.

Neighbor Adrienne Hill said she and others clustered around the home as firefighters entered, "praying that the children would get out alive."

Joyce McNair-Gilbert, another resident, said the youngsters appeared unconscious when they were taken from the home.

"I saw three children taken out; one on a stretcher with what seemed to be an oxygen mask, and the other two were carried out by firemen," McNair-Gilbert said.

The two children were declared dead at Sinai Hospital, fire officials said.

Hill said that Anthony attends school with her cousin. She described him as a playful child and well-known on the block.

"He would ring the bell and ask for some water or something to eat," she said.

Firefighters had the blaze under control in about 20 minutes, preventing the spread to adjacent homes, according to fire officials. Two firefighters sustained injuries that were not life-threatening.

Yesterday, the rowhouse's windows were masked with black tarp and the charred door hung open loosely. Tattered clothing hung from an overturned, blackened toy truck, and a pink-and-purple motorized child's Jeep was covered with ash.

The children's grandparents, who live several doors away on the same block, declined to comment yesterday.

It was the second fire in as many days to claim the life of a child in Baltimore.

On Wednesday, 11-year-old Davon Dortch was killed in a fire started by a candle in an East Baltimore rowhouse where the electricity had been shut off.

His brother, Fidel Russel, 7, remained in critical condition yesterday at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Sun staff writer Julie Bykowicz contributed to this article.

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