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Newly Released 911 Tapes Give Insight Into Penn Lumber Fire

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Penn Lumber fire
McCorkel Meghan 370x278 (2) Meghan McCorkell
Meghan McCorkell joined the Eyewitness News team in July 2011 as a...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Five Baltimore firefighters–trapped and injured in a massive lumber fire. Three nights later, they’re still recovering.

Now–for the first time–we’re getting an inside look at how emergency crews responded when that building came crumbling down.

Meghan McCorkell has details.

The fire department has released dramatic 911 tapes and the emergency radio transmissions as they battled back flames to rescue their fellow firefighters.

“There’s a fire in a building on Pennsylvania and Franklin Street. Smoke is pouring out the roof,” a witness said.

As an inferno rages at Penn Lumber in West Baltimore, calls pour into 911.

“Smoke is coming out the windows!” said another witness.

More than 100 firefighters rushed to fight the flames, but the building quickly became unstable. Over emergency radio transmissions you can hear a  battalion chief say “All units evacuate the building at this time. Evacuate the building.”

For five firefighters, it’s too late. Witnesses say fellow firefighters would stop at nothing to get to them.

“The paramedics came over and said ‘You’re hurt, you need to go out,’ and he said ‘No, my buddy’s in there,'” said Larry Wright.

WJZ was there as the trapped rescue workers were pulled out. All five firefighters that were trapped under the rubble have now been treated and released from the hospital.

Cleanup efforts are now underway, as fire investigators try to determine what caused the building to go up in flames.

Fire officials say they may never know the cause of the fire because of the extent of the damage to the building.

The Penn Lumber property has now been condemned.

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