Firefighters rescued an unconscious person during a two-alarm blaze late Tuesday in Northwest Baltimore, a spokesman said, but the victim later died.
Though fire officials could not yet confirm the identity of the victim, relatives of Roger Weldon Carter said they believe he was the individual who died. They gathered outside the two-story wood frame house in Central Forest Park Wednesday morning and described Carter as a model father, skilled musician and recently published author who had just celebrated his 63rd birthday on March 12.
"He was a brilliant man," said his wife, Joan Carter, who said the two have been legally separated since 1993. "He wrote books, he could draw, he taught himself how to play classical piano."
Fire department spokesman Kevin Cartwright said firefighters entered the house in the 4300 block of Springdale Ave., where they found an unconscious person on the second floor.
The victim was taken to an area hospital where they later died, Cartwright said.
Joan Carter and her daughter, Kysha Carter-Boyd, were parked outside the home Wednesday morning, its white paint now singed in places, where they said Roger Carter lived as a tenant.
A graduate of Morgan State University, Roger Carter participated in the ROTC and was later honorably discharged from the military, Joan Carter said. He had just written a book, "The Force of Creation, Salvation and Judgment," published by WestBow Press in February.
"In 1995 I made a new year resolution to read the entire bible [sic] with no exegical [sic] commentary," Roger Carter wrote in a note on the publisher's website. He wrote that he spent four years "compiling information about the scriptures" and writing the book.
Carter-Boyd said she saw the fire on the news Wednesday morning and recognized the home as the one her father rented and lived in with two or three other people. A call to the medical examiner's office confirmed her worst fears, that the sole victim was her father. Late Wednesday morning, a brother and cousin arrived and embraced the mother and daughter outside the home.
The family speculated about what could have caused the fire. Wiring problems, possibly — or just bad luck.
"Everybody got out," Joan Carter said. "Roger was on that top floor. That's what happened."
One neighbor, Dexter Durant, said he heard fire trucks arrive around 11 p.m. Tuesday. He and other neighbors came outside and watched as firefighters battled the blaze. Flames were shooting out the back window, he said.
"It could have been a bigger mess," said Durant, 35, who said he believed Tuesday evening's rain prevented burning cinders from flying to nearby homes.
No other injuries were reported, Cartwright said, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Sun staff writer Liz F. Kay contributed to this story.