1 dead, 1 hurt in rowhouse blaze

Southeast Baltimore fire contained to one room

woman in critical condition

November 20, 2005|By BRADLEY OLSON | BRADLEY OLSON,SUN REPORTER

A one-room fire in a Southeast Baltimore rowhouse left a man dead and a woman in critical condition yesterday afternoon, fire officials said.

Firefighters responding to an alarm just before 2 p.m. found smoke coming from the second floor of the two-story home in the 400 block of Elrino St., off Eastern Avenue. The fire was contained in the room and did not spread to neighboring rowhouses.

One man, whom fire officials refused to identify, was pronounced dead at the scene. The injured woman was taken to the burn center at the nearby Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where she was listed in critical condition.

Neighbors said the dead man was the 51-year-old resident of the apartment and described the woman as his 70-year-old companion.

Yesterday's fatality marks the city's third weekend death in residential fires. Early Friday, a blaze in a West Baltimore apartment complex - which police and fire officials call arson - left two dead and displaced more than two dozen residents. Police and fire official would not release additional details about that fire, the unidentified man who died with Thomasine Evans or any suspects.

In yesterday's blaze, both victims were found in the single room that burned. Fire Department spokesman Kevin Cartwright said a one-room fire could easily be lethal for someone who inhaled fumes and smoke.

"When someone is overcome by heavy smoke from combustible materials, one gasp of air is enough to become asphyxiated," he said. "The lungs can't filter those toxic particles. You take one gasp, then another, and it renders you lifeless because of the heat and fire of the environment."

Sharon Myers, 68, who lives next door, said she noticed the fire when smoke set off the alarm in her home. She went outside and found another neighbor yelling the name of the dead man. He told her he had summoned help.

By 5 p.m., firefighters were emptying the contents of the scorched room, heaving charred furniture, clothes and a television off a first-floor roof onto the front lawn.

bradley.olson@baltsun.com

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