BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Fire investigators are still trying to determine how a fire started in Southwest Baltimore, leaving two people dead.
Andrea Fujii has the latest.
Neighbors say the two people who died were well known in the area, and their deaths leave a big hole in the community.
Neighbors say 30-year-old Ernest Ritter– known to his friends as “Ernie”– died Saturday afternoon as he was trying to save his mother, Donna, inside their home in the 400 block of South Fulton Avenue.
“It’s just really heart-wrenching because my children, my grandchildren, are really dealing with a situation they’ve never had to deal with before,” said Sharon Vogel, neighbor and friend.
Neighbors held a candlelight vigil Sunday night and took time to reflect on the lives that were lost.
“It’s like you’re here one minute with somebody, and the next you’re trying to think about oh well, that could’ve been you. What if you were there and you were in his place? It’s like losing a family member. He was a family member,” said Edith Knickman, neighbor.
Ernie and Donna were both trapped on the third floor of their house, and although firefighters say they arrived within two minutes they were dead before anyone could get to them.
“We established a water supply immediately. First unit on the scene was an engine company, truck company rolled up right behind them. They established a water supply and gained entrance as quickly as possible,” said Captain Roman Clark, Baltimore City Fire Department.
“Now where they’re at and where they’re going to be going, they’re going to be resting in peace, and they’re not going to be suffering no more,” Vogel said.
A fire department spokesperson says it appears the two died from heavy smoke inhalation. A cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Firefighters say they also found a dead pet inside the home but couldn’t say if it was a cat or dog.
At least two firefighters were also injured with minor burns.