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.





More From CBS Baltimore

Track Weather On The Go With Our App!
Your Podcast Network

Listen Live