Fires attributed to `human error'

Chief says deadly blazes were preventable


Baltimore City Fire Chief William J. Goodwin Jr. said yesterday that most of the fires that claimed the lives of at least six people since Friday could have been prevented, and he attributed them broadly to "human error."

Without commenting on the investigations or the causes of the fires, including an early Sunday blaze that killed three young boys in Southwest Baltimore, Goodwin said the department is emphasizing basic fire safety precautions to citizens as the winter approaches.

"I've not seen a fire in the past week that wasn't preventable," Goodwin said.

Police have determined that two of the people whose deaths were first reported as fire-related had been shot before the fire was set in an apartment on Garrison Boulevard. The deaths of Thomasine Evans, 41, and an unidentified man are being investigated as homicides.

Barbara Cameron was killed in a Friday afternoon fire in her West Baltimore home. The next day, two elderly people -- Robert Miller, 70, and an unidentified woman -- died in a fire in Southeast Baltimore.

And early Sunday, three young brothers -- Glen, Christopher and Jonathan Alger -- died in a fire that burned out their Southwest Baltimore rowhouse. Their parents, David and Angela Alger, remain hospitalized, and investigators have yet to pinpoint a cause.

Fire officials reiterated yesterday a list of steps that city residents can take to protect their homes from fires. People can request free smoke detectors from the department, which will also install them. To request one, call 410-396-7283.

Other measures include making sure portable space heaters are used properly, candles are never left unattended and families have evacuation plans.

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