Baltimore housing officials condemned a rowhouse in the Curtis Bay neighborhood yesterday after a tanker truck loaded with fuel crashed into it, leaving three families homeless.
A building inspector met with the property owner hours after the 1 a.m. accident, and fire and police officials said damage was severe enough that the building at Pennington Avenue and Locust Street - which housed a closed auto repair shop and three upstairs apartments - might have to be torn down.
"I was sleeping, and the next thing I know there was furniture on top of me," William Grimes, 51, said as he stood near the wreckage of the building where he had lived for 10 years. "The only thing I saw was the tank. The cab was already in the building, going into the basement."
Officer Troy Harris, a city police spokesman, said the driver apparently lost control before the crash. No cause had been determined, he said.
Firefighters closed several roads in the area while workers pumped fuel from the disabled truck to another tanker.
"There was no spill whatsoever," said Chief Kevin Cartwright, a spokesman for the Baltimore Fire Department.
Several occupants and the driver suffered minor injuries and were treated at Harbor Hospital.
Grimes said he met with the truck driver at the hospital and that "he said he was sorry."
The truck driver, who was not identified by police, told him that he had tried to swerve to avoid hitting another car, Grimes said.
Heather Fawley, 24, who lives in the building and dates Grimes' son, was outside yesterday crying and holding her daughter, Anna Fawley-Grimes, 3.
"I was on the computer and I heard the impact," Fawley said. "I wasn't sure what it was, but it knocked me down. We've just got to figure out how we're going to find a place to live. The house is trashed."
The little girl asked her mother, "I can't go up there?"
"No," her mother answered.