Child dies in Baltimore rowhouse fire

August 08, 2010|By Jamie Smith Hopkins, The Baltimore Sun

An early-morning rowhouse fire in West Baltimore claimed the life of a 3-year-old Sunday, fire officials said.

Firefighters found heavy smoke and fire coming from the second story of a brick rowhouse when they arrived at the 2500 block of West Lanvale Street around 2:45 a.m. The fire was limited to a single bedroom on the second floor, and it was there that the search-and-rescue crew found the body of a child.

An official cause of death will be determined by the state medical examiner, but it appears that the child died from smoke inhalation and burns, said Chief Kevin Cartwright, a spokesman for the city fire department.

Most people killed in fires die from smoke inhalation, he said.

"You literally get one gasp of air … and it asphyxiates you," he said.

No nearby fire stations were on rotating closure due to the city's tight budget, Cartwright said. The closest station is about six blocks away and had a team quickly on the scene, he said.

Firefighters heard no smoke alarms when they arrived and believe the house had no working detectors, Cartwright added. Installing and maintaining smoke detectors can make the difference between surviving a fire and succumbing to it, he said.

Fire and police officials are investigating the cause of the fire and don't expect an immediate determination.

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