Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Fast-moving flames ripped through a lumber yard in West Baltimore, sending several firefighters to Shock Trauma.
Mike Hellgren reports from the scene with the latest on how they’re doing.
The smoke could be seen for miles as the fire ultimately called for four alarms with more than 100 firefighters on the scene. Five of them were injured.
Sky Eye Chopper 13 shows you the smoke and flames and conditions that quickly turned dangerous as fire swept through Penn Lumber Monday night, a business that’s stood for years, not far from downtown off Pennsylvania Avenue.
The injured firefighters were on the way out of the building when it collapsed. They’re now out of the hospital with only minor bumps and bruises. Some witnesses call that miraculous.
“Some of the firemen were blown into the shed and some were blown into the sidewalk right here,” said witness Phil Cox. “God was with them.”
No cause has been determined. For investigators, that job will be difficult.
“Three stories literally came tumbling down to the ground. There’s a lot of debris and the conditions are still somewhat unsafe for our arson investigators to go digging through that debris,” said Chief Kevin Cartwright.
The firefighters’ union president says cuts to the department have made it more difficult to fight major fires like this, while praising his fellow firefighters.
“The city is cut bare bones. We’re barely hanging on. We’re trying to provide the best coverage we can but it’s very, very tough,” said Rick Hoffman, International Association of Firefighters Union. “Unfortunately, we do a dangerous job. The wall came down unexpectedly. The guys got caught up in it. Fortunately, they were just beat up, battered and bruised.”
The property has been condemned.
The property owner declined to comment.