One firefighter is dead and four others were injured after a fire spread rapidly across three rowhomes in the 5200 block of Linden Heights Avenue Thursday afternoon.
”Tonight, Baltimore lost a hero, one of our bravest public servants,” Mayor Brandon Scott said late Thursday night at a press briefing outside theMaryland Shock Trauma Center.
Units responded around 3:45 p.m. to a scene with extensive smoke and fire at a two-story brick rowhome, Baltimore City Fire Chief James Wallace said. Firefighters entered the building, where they had zero visibility, just before the flames quickly intensified and overwhelmed them, he said.
Authorities said the homes were occupied and none of the residents were harmed in the blaze. Multiple agencies are investigating the cause of the fire, which is currently unknown.
Wallace, flanked by city leaders and emergency responders from surrounding jurisdictions, confirmed that a firefighter, who has not yet been publicly identified, died as a result of injuries sustained in the fire. Four other firefighters suffered varying degrees of burns, he said. One is expected to be released within 24 hours and three others are in serious condition.
Fire personnel and other emergency responders had lined up outside of shock trauma earlier in the evening and saluted in silence as a gurney was wheeled out of the building. A flag processional later led an ambulance with Baltimore City Fire Department emblazoned on the side out of the parking lot as people followed behind, many embracing and crying.
The streets surrounding shock trauma were cordoned off by emergency personnel standing guard at full salute. Neighbors and people walking by stopped to salute the processional as well, as the ambulance made its way to Maryland Forensic Medical Center.
Shortly before 10 p.m., a group of a few dozen people — including relatives and loved ones of the deceased — joined hands and formed a circle outside shock trauma. With heads bowed, they prayed. A member of the group declined to comment.
Thursday’s fatality comes less than two years after a vacant home burning on Stricker Street collapsed, killing three responding city firefighters. A report compiled by regional safety officials later faulted the agency for failing to abide by recommendations made in past reports about close calls and line-of-duty deaths in the city fire department. Fire Chief Niles Ford resigned as the report was published.
This article has been updated to reflect the number of firefighters injured in the incident.