Digest

November 20, 2007

Bealefeld confirmed as city police commissioner

Baltimore's City Council overwhelmingly confirmed Frederick H. Bealefeld III as the city's police commissioner last night, and a spokesman said Bealefeld likely would be sworn in today.

Mayor Sheila Dixon nominated Bealefeld as commissioner early last month and his confirmation by the 15-member council was expected. The council voted unanimously - with one abstention - for confirmation.

"Commissioner Bealefeld has given us real, tangible results over the past few months, and I am ready for him to officially lead his police force," Dixon said in a statement. "Commissioner Bealefeld understands that as our communities become safer, the city will become stronger."

Bealefeld, who started his career in the Western District, was selected by Dixon as acting commissioner to replace Leonard D. Hamm, who was asked to resign in July during a spike in homicides. The pace of homicides has slowed since then, but the number of killings is still about 10 percent above where it was last year at this time.

John Fritze

Baltimore

: Northwest

Fire in apartment forces evacuations

A kitchen fire in a five-story apartment building in Northwest Baltimore last night forced the evacuation of several residents, many of them elderly, from their apartments and sent one to a hospital when he complained of difficulty breathing, a city Fire Department spokesman said.

Reported about 6 p.m., the fire in the kitchen of an apartment on the second floor of the Clubhouse Condominiums in the 6700 block of Park Heights Ave. was confined to the one apartment and caused severe damage to that unit, said Chief Kevin Cartwright, the spokesman.

Cartwright said an occupant of the apartment escaped injury, but that a different resident had trouble breathing and was treated at Sinai Hospital.

Cartwright said of the 83 units in the building, 82 were occupied and that at least 100 people were in the building at the time of the fire that sent smoke throughout much of the brick building.

He said most of the residents remained in their apartments or went into the lobby, while firefighters went floor-to-floor in search of anyone who needed assistance or was unaccounted for.

Members of the city's Office of Emergency Management and the Baltimore chapter of the Red Cross arrived to assist residents.

Cartwright said that more than 100 firefighters manning 37 pieces of equipment responded and that the fire was under control in less than an hour.

He said the building's fire alarm was activated and that smoke detectors in the vicinity of the burning apartment sounded their alarms.

Cartwright said that because the fire was in an apartment building for elderly residents, extra manpower and equipment were dispatched.

Richard Irwin

Howard County

: Columbia

Woman burned in townhouse fire

An 18-year-old woman was in critical condition at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center after a fire yesterday morning heavily damaged a townhouse in Columbia's Long Reach village, Howard County police said.

Firefighters had to break down the locked front door to reach Breanna Alman, who was lying unconscious in the smoke-filled foyer of the townhouse in the 5700 block of Flagflower Place, said Lt. Sean Alliger of the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services. Alliger said it appeared that the woman was trying to escape when she lost consciousness.

Alman was sent to Bayview Medical Center with burns on 20 percent of her body, said Bill Mould, a spokesman for the Fire Department.

Another occupant of the house, Andrew Christopher Lee, 20, escaped by dangling out a second-floor window and dropping to the ground, said Kayanna Pierre, 18, a neighbor. Pierre said her mother and another neighbor helped cushion his fall.

When firefighters arrived, Lee was sitting on a neighbor's porch, Alliger said. Lee was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center to be treated for smoke inhalation and was expected to have been released yesterday, said Sherry Llewellyn, a police spokeswoman.

The fire started shortly before 8 a.m. in the living room of the townhouse, and firefighters did not hear smoke alarms sounding when they arrived, Mould said.

Firefighters prevented the blaze from spreading to an adjacent townhouse. Mould said the cause of the fire was unknown. He said he did not have a damage estimate.

Melissa Harris

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