Man found on fire in park near Mercy Hospital

Cause of death, blaze under investigation

April 06, 2004|By Jacqueline Seaberg | Jacqueline Seaberg, Staff

A man was found burning early this morning in the small public park across the street from Mercy Hospital in downtown Baltimore, fire officials said.

The man, who authorities have yet to identify and believe was homeless, was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of the fire was under investigation, and the cause of death will not be known until an autopsy is completed, according to James Gardner, a spokesman for the city Fire Department.

Two hospital workers initially attempted to put out the fire at Preston Gardens park with a fire extinguisher, Gardner said. Firefighters were dispatched after authorities received a call from a cell phone at 5:33 a.m., and a medical unit arrived on the scene by 5:41 a.m., according to Gardner.

Investigators will use forensics to try to match the man's fingerprints to any on file, Gardner said. His identity may never be known, he added.

If fire is determined as the cause of death, it would be the 23rd fire-related fatality this year. Twenty-seven people died in city fires last year.

Last night, another man died in a fire at 1804 E. 29th St. Fire units will return to the area this morning to talk to neighbors and hand out a brochure on fire prevention.

They will also install smoke detectors for residents who do not have a working alarm, Gardner said.

"If they would like us to, we'll sit down with them and design a fire escape plan," he added.

Originally published April 6, 2004, 9:40 AM EDT

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