Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Firefighters are calling it an inferno– a fire so big it forced a mother to toss her infant out the window. But the grandmother and four other grandchildren perish inside.
Derek Valcourt has more from stunned friends and family.
The grief in Northeast Baltimore is too much to bear after an early morning fire claimed the lives of a grandmother and her four young grandchildren.
“Just sadness. I can’t believe they’re gone,” said a loved one.
The home caught fire just before 2 a.m. Annette Eden got a call from her daughter saying the home was on fire. Neighbors saw flames shooting from the windows and black smoke billowing in the air.
“Then she called me back and said they were all gone,” Eden said.
The grandfather broke his back after jumping from a second floor window. Neighbors believed the grandmother stayed inside trying to save the four grandkids. Two-year-old Knyah, 4-year-old Darryl, 7-year-old Tykia and 1-year-old James died in the fire.
The fire was officially placed under control at 3:47 a.m.
A neighborhood full of their young friends is left devastated.
“And they played with my grandkids everyday. And that’s the 7-year-old’s best friend, my little sister,” said a neighbor.
Two of the children attended nearby Moravia Park Elementary School.
The principal and staff were among dozens who came out Thursday night for a memorial in front of the burned out home.
“The little boy came up to me last week and he was walking down the hallway and he said, ‘Hi, I love you’”.
“So this is very, very difficult for me my staff. My heart goes out to this family,” Debra Brooks, principal of Moravia Park Elementary School, said.
Some firefighters were also injured when they went inside and fell through a burned floor onto firefighters in the basement below.
Heartbroken neighbors couldn’t believe what they were watching.
“I still hear the screams,” Brandon Jones said.
Jones lives two doors down. He’s witnessed the tragedy and tears that followed.
“That’s what you’ve been hearing all day– screams, cries and heartbreak,” he said.
Rick Hoffman, President of the International Association of Firefighters Local 434, released this statement:
“First off, my heartfelt condolences to the family that lost loved ones today in one of the early morning fires. Our prayers go out to the injured firefighters and their families as well. I don’t want to use this to get on a soapbox and beat the same drum. Nor do I want to play God and pretend to have a crystal ball to have the ability to see the future and say the companies that were shut down would have had a better outcome this morning. What I believe is a non-arguable point is that the Baltimore City Fire Department is doing a lot more with fewer resources and is spread too thin. But Baltimore can rest assured the men and women of this department are here to proudly serve.”
In response to this tragedy, firefighters will be going door-to-door throughout the city on Sunday with free smoke detectors.