BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A fast-moving early morning fire in Northwest Baltimore claimed the life of a father who was trying to save his family. Now, city firefighters are renewing the warning to check smoke alarms.

Gigi Barnett has more.

Just before 5 a.m. on Sunday, city firefighters received a call to a house fire in the 2900-block of Woodland Avenue in Northwest Baltimore.

By daybreak, neighbors were greeted by a burned-out shell of a home and news that the homeowner, Stephan Keene, died in the fire.

“They’re heartbroken right now,” said family friend Lawrence Dorsey. “It’s sad.”

What sparked the fire is still a mystery for investigators. Sources close to the family say Keene, his wife, stepdaughter and grandson were in the house when the blaze broke out and it’s not clear if the family had working smoke alarms inside.

Medics say Keene died from heavy smoke inhalation.

“You literally will get only one breath of air,” Chief Kevin Cartwright of the Baltimore Fire Department said. “And that one breath is what’s going to asphyxiate you, render you lifeless, and you literally collapse and succumb to the heat and the fire.”

Firefighters eventually found Keene’s body at the back of the house. Family members say he was inside searching for them not knowing that they had made it out alive.

“Any man should step up and try and help their family as far as something like this,” Dorsey said.

Two firefighters were injured battling the fire. One received a first-degree burn to his ear while the other received a non-life-threatening electric shock. He was rushed to the Bayview Burn Center and is in good condition.

If you need to receive a free 10-year smoke detector, call 311 and firefighters will install them for you.


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