29-year-old mother of 3 dies after kitchen fire

August 28, 2006|By Nia-Malika Henderson | Nia-Malika Henderson,sun reporter

A 29-year-old Southwest Baltimore woman died yesterday morning after a fire broke out in the kitchen of her apartment, fire officials said.

Firefighters found Latoria Thornton unconscious in the hallway of her two-bedroom apartment in the 4700 block of Sayer Ave. after a neighbor called about 4:30 a.m. and reported smelling smoke.

Food left unattended on the stove ignited wooden cabinets and filled the apartment with smoke, said Chief Kevin Cartwright, a spokesman for the Fire Department. Eight firefighters took about five minutes to extinguish the blaze, Cartwright said.

Thornton, a single mother of three, was pronounced dead at St. Agnes Hospital after several failed attempts to revive her. The cause of death was smoke inhalation.

Cartwright said he did not know whether Thornton's apartment had a working smoke detector, but her neighbors said their units had working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

The fire caused no significant damage to other apartment units. This year, 11 people have died in fires in the city, Cartwright said. At this time last year, there had been 13 fire deaths.

Family members described Thornton, who moved to the Hunting Hills complex about two weeks ago, as a bright and hard-working woman who was devoted to her family.

"She was a friendly person, smile on her face every day," said her father, Larry Thornton, as he cleaned out his daughter's silver sport utility vehicle. "She worked, had three kids. She was all right."

Saturday, she watched her two sons, Tyree 11, and Shawntay, 7, play football, and then she shopped for back-to-school clothes. Her two sons, and 1-year-old daughter Jasmine, were with their grandmother when the fire broke out.

For the last year, she worked at the University of Maryland Hospital in the information technology department.

"She was very bright, she knew a lot about computers," said Helena Thornton, her mother.

Latoria Thornton was working toward her associate's degree at Catonsville Community College. Known as "Meaka," she moved to be closer to her family because she was struggling financially, her mother said.

Helena Thornton recalled that her daughter was sensitive as a child but stood her ground. "She had soft feelings, but she wouldn't let anything get her down," her mother said.

Helena Thornton said she planned to raise her grandchildren because her daughter would have wanted that.


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