Firefighters work to douse blaze

Chunks of `tricky' fire rekindle

spokesman says building is filled with flammable items

October 28, 2006|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,SUN REPORTER

Firefighters last night were still trying to douse rekindled remnants of what they called a "tricky" three-alarm blaze at a warehouse and old meat packing plant in East Baltimore, according to fire officials.

"We're wetting everything down, we've brought in special equipment," said Roman Clark, a spokesman for the Fire Department.

The fire was first reported about 4 a.m. yesterday from a neighbor who saw smoke coming from the building, the former Goetze meat packing plant on Sinclair Lane that has now been subdivided and is insulated with cork walls. Both factors made it difficult for fire fighters.

"The fire gets behind the cork walls and it can go in any direction," Clark said. "You have to get behind the cork. Break it down. It is very difficult."

Making matters more challenging for firefighters - the building was full of flammable material. Clark said the first two floors of the warehouse are occupied by a company that bundles clothing. The third floor was full of mattresses. The roof of the building is made of cement. "It's a difficult structure that we're faced with," Clark said.

Seven hours after the fire was reported, Chief William J. Goodwin, Jr. took over command of the scene, at which there were 122 firefighters and 48 pieces of equipment.

Mayor Martin O'Malley visited the site. "I'm here because of the complicated nature of the fire," O'Malley said. He donned a firefighters jacket and spoke with Goodwin. The mayor was accompanied by John W. Hickenlooper, the mayor of Denver, who was in town visiting.

In 2002, a group of private developers tried to revitalize the Goetze building with a $450 million project that would have turned it into a "Media Network School" with up to 1,800 students living in renovated rowhouses in the area. The idea was to have students sell their work to film and entertainment companies and help the city gain a stake in the movie industry.

Henry H. Lewis, one of the men listed as an owner of the property, did not return a phone call yesterday.

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