Officials: 5-Alarm Baltimore ‘Block’ Fire Not An Accident

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Federal agents and Baltimore fire investigators say the huge fire on the Block was not an accident, but they are not yet calling it arson.

Andrea Fujii has more.

This is not an easy fire to solve.  It took more than 90 investigators, 60 interviews and two days of clearing out debris to get to the source of “the Block” fire from last week.

It’s somewhere in 404 E. Baltimore Street, but the joint investigation team is only saying that someone set this fire and they need more information.

“This scene was one of the more difficult ones that NRT has ever faced in terms of the structure collapse and what happened,” said ATF Special Agent Sheree Mixell.

Businesses, including stores and strip clubs, have been shut down all week.

“Nobody’s making any money, nobody.  The girls, the owners, the managers, nobody.  I thought they could have done this and been open the week the fire happened,” said Charles Branch, Club Miami.

“It’s been bad–people out of work, Christmas coming,” said George Alevgorianni.

Crazy John’s employees are cleaning up to pass a health inspection so it can open on Friday.

“The Health Department says to throw everything that’s out away,” Alevgorianni said.

Regulars and workers on the Block expected to hear that the multi-building blaze was sparked by someone.

“Doesn’t surprise me.  There are a lot of guys that squat in the back of the buildings and, you know, they go in buildings and smoke or whatever they’re smoking.  It doesn’t surprise,” Branch said.

“It’s not surprising.  There are so many people around here, foot traffic, that you never know what could happen,” said Ryan Branski.

Investigators will call this arson if the person responsible meant to burn down the building.

“It’s an issue of intent.  It was set because of human involvement but it hasn’t been determined if that was intentional involvement or unintentional involvement,” said Ray Obrocki, Baltimore Fire Department.

Investigators aren’t releasing the exact location of where the fire started.  But according to WJZ’s media partner, The Baltimore Sun, a man seeking shelter from the cold started the fire in a booth at the Gayety Club. 

The ATF is offering a $5,000 reward for information to solve this case.





One Comment

  1. Beth Callen says:

    I’m pretty sure it was. That’s probably why they’re going to “announce” it at a set time.

  2. casper says:

    was anyone really suprised.

  3. John W. says:

    I’d wait to hear the official report. A few years ago Channel 13 reported that a bar that some of my friends owned burned down and they implied that it could have been arson. It was actually an electrical fire and my friends almost died. So, there’s a good chance this story is up just to sensationalize this fire as well.

  4. Dsfm Joseph Zurolo says:

    ATF needs to be clearer about this. Fire was intentionally set. In my eyes intentionally set means someone intentionally set the fire.

  5. pigeon says:

    Can’t wait for the “rest of the story” confirming arson so I can say “I told you so”. When do they anticipate completing investigation on the Mt. Vernon fire – best that was set too!

  6. GREGNMD says:


  7. kristi says:

    Check out for the most accurate and intensive archives of The Block’s history from 1900 to present. It reveals the secrets, lies and scandals of this historic Baltimore landmark. History isn’t fun if it isn’t juicy!

  8. ryan bransky says:

    i love how they can even spell my name correctly its not branski it is bransky

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