Baltimore City firefighters battled a large fire at an abandoned mansion in West Baltimore late into the night Monday.
Units were dispatched at about 5:30 p.m. to the 5000 block of Old Frederick Road where a three-alarm fire set a vacant mansion ablaze in the Uplands neighborhood, according to fire officials.
“Due to intensity of the fire and the size of the [building] structure, the incident commander requested a second alarm of fire and then a third,” said Kevin Cartwright, Baltimore City’s fire spokesperson. “After the surveying the scene, we needed more manpower as the fire grew.” He added that nearly 100 firefighters and paramedics and 35 apparatuses were at the scene.
Water from hand lines, monitor pipes and master streams were used to extinguish the fire. At around 9:45 p.m., Cartwright said there were no more visible flames, but fire officials would continue to saturate the burned remains to ensure that there are no further flare-ups.
No cause has been determined. There have not been any injuries to firefighters, Cartwright added.
According to Baltimore Heritage, Inc., a city nonprofit organization dedicated to historic and architectural preservation, the Victorian mansion was a 42-room summer home of former Baltimore socialite and philanthropist Mary Frick Jacobs. She left the estate to the Episcopal Church after her death in 1936, and it was the Uplands Home for Church Women between 1952 and 1986.
New Psalmist Baptist Church eventually acquired the property in the early 1990s before the decision to relocate was made in 2004, leaving it vacant in the center of the Uplands neighborhood.
David Smallwood, the Uplands Community Association Inc. president, said he was not surprised that such a large fire occurred because he regularly saw individuals congregate at the property over the last few years.
He said he recently requested city housing code enforcement officials and officers of the Baltimore Police Southwest district to join him and neighborhood residents at an upcoming November association meeting to address issues of trespassing at the property.
Housing and police officials couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
“This was a tragedy waiting to happen. We’ve [the association has] been talking about this for the last few years with the city and the Police Department. We’ve watched how people just come and go on the property and on school days, we’d see kids going over there doing I don’t know what,” Smallwood said. “I’m frustrated right now because we’ve been trying to tell them [officials] that this is out-of-hand.”
Residents have long complained about the danger that vacant homes can cause. The Baltimore NAACP headquarters was damaged after a fire at a neighboring vacant building earlier this month. Baltimore lost two firefighters after they battled a fire nearly two weeks ago in Northwest Baltimore.
Smallwood is grateful that no first responders were injured Monday night, he said.
“I just want to say I’m just glad that no firemen’s lives were lost and none of that fire or its embers came over to the residents” on Pen Lucy or Old Frederick roads, Smallwood said. “As great of a fire that this was, this could’ve been much more catastrophic.”