19-year-old woman indicted in April arson case

Firefighter still in hospital

woman being held in fire

May 01, 2010|By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun

A firefighter is expected to go home from the hospital this week after sustaining injuries in a fire last month, while the woman charged with arson in the incident remains in the Baltimore City Detention Center.

A grand jury indicted Brittany Katina Garcia, 19, of the 4800 block of Hawksbury Road in Pikesville on charges of first-degree arson, seven counts of reckless endangerment and malicious burning Thursday in an apartment fire April 7 that left Jeffrey Novack of Truck Company 12 recovering from a fractured hip and burns to his arms and hands.

Court documents allege that Garcia was responsible for burning the three-story apartment building in the 3900 block of Liberty Heights Ave., with witnesses identifying Garcia, according to a release from the city state's attorney's office.

Novack's truck was one of the units that responded to the two-alarm fire, but no engine arrived with a hose line, said Bob Sledgeski, president of the firefighters union. He said a nearby station's engine was responding to another call and the two other closest stations had been closed because of the rotating firehouse closures.

Novack, 25, a five-year veteran of the company, went inside the building twice and brought out two people, Sledgeski said. As the flames grew, Novack suffered burns to his arms and hand and he was forced to jump out.

"He had to bail out," Sledgeski said.

Two women suffered burns and smoke inhalation and were taken to area hospitals, along with Novack.

"He did his job and he served the citizens of Baltimore well," said George Jones, 1st vice president of the Baltimore Fire Officers Association.

Jones said an engine took longer to respond and that the city's rotating closures put Baltimore firefighters in jeopardy.

Under Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake's preliminary budget, 90 firefighters would be laid off.

During a budget meeting March 26, Fire Chief James S. Clack warned that it would take firefighters considerably longer to reach fires if the cuts were made.

Novack is expected to return home from Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center this week, Sledgeski said. Novack faces daily therapy sessions to recover, and he still must use a wheelchair, the union chief said.

"He's really doing well," Sledgeski said, adding that everyone hopes Novack will be able to return to work soon.

Garcia is being held without bail at the detention center. An arraignment is scheduled for May 27.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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