Homeless man killed in accidental fire on street

Victim apparently set himself ablaze while trying to keep warm

April 07, 2004|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

An unidentified homeless man spending the night on a strip of grass across St. Paul Street from Mercy Medical Center apparently set himself on fire by accident and burned to death early yesterday, city police said.

A Mercy security guard spotted the man in flames and tried to douse the fire with a jacket, a hospital spokesman said.

Firefighters and police officers arrived about 5:40 a.m. and pronounced the man dead, said Officer Nicole Monroe, a police spokeswoman.

Kevin Lindamood, spokesman for Health Care for the Homeless, said police told him the man lit a fire inside his cardboard encampment, was overcome by the smoke and fell into the flames.

On any given night there are between 3,000 and 5,000 homeless people in the city, said Lindamood, citing government statistics.

Yesterday's death came less than two weeks after an announcement by the city that only one homeless person had died in a weather-related death during the winter - fewest in the past decade.

Temperatures were near freezing in the Baltimore area, with a slight breeze, at the time of the man's death yesterday.

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