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News from around the Baltimore region

September 11, 2005

BALTIMORE

Fire damages church during block party on Oliver Street

A two-alarm fire damaged the Mount Zion Church of God in Christ during a community block party yesterday afternoon.

A fenced-off section outside the two-story rowhouse church in the 2500 block of Oliver St. was being used for the party about 2:30 p.m. when somebody noticed smoke billowing from the church and called 911, said Chief Kevin Cartwright, a Fire Department spokesman.

Residents and church members watched in disbelief as firefighters sprayed the building.

"I've never seen a fire move that fast," said Roosevelt Holmes, a deacon of the church who was using a gas grill nearby when he saw the smoke and flames.

Cartwright said the building was not used during the block party, and no one was inside when the fire started. He said the cause of the fire was not immediately known, and there were no immediate damage estimates.

- Tyrone Richardson

BALTIMORE

City to alter traffic patterns for Ravens' season-opener

Baltimore transportation officials are advising of new traffic patterns near M&T Bank Stadium for tonight's season-opening football game between the Ravens and the Indianapolis Colts.

Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m., but ticket-holders are expected hours earlier for tailgate parties.

Only one lane of southbound Russell Street will be open until game time. The Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard ramp onto the Baltimore-Washington Parkway will be closed from 9 p.m. tonight to 3 a.m. Monday.

At the start of the fourth quarter, three lanes of southbound Russell Street will be open until 3 a.m.

City officials ask patrons to park in stadium or commercial lots and to avoid neighborhoods. Parking restrictions will be in place near the stadium, and cars not displaying valid parking stickers will be ticketed and towed.

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