BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An investigation is underway into the three-alarm fire that destroyed a huge house in Roland Park. It was a cold and dangerous job for firefighters working in sub-freezing temperatures.

Christie Ileto has the latest.

The neighborhood is still blocked off. If that three-alarm fire wasn’t a challenge in itself, the weather definitely was.

Raging flames rip through a huge home on the 1000-block of St. Georges Road in Roland Park Thursday.

“I saw the house at one point, and it was really burnt. I saw the top had some like black and paint ripping off,” said Charlie King.

Fire crews say the homeowner, a 75-year-old retired Johns Hopkins doctor, was inside when the flames ignited, but safely made it out.

“The occupants had been alerted by a smoke alarm,” said Ian Brennan, Baltimore City Fire Department spokesperson.

The homeowner tells WJZ’s media partner, The Baltimore Sun, he’d lived there since 1970. Decades worth of memories are up in smoke.

Within an hour, flames escalated to a three-alarm fire that authorities say may have started on the second floor.

“When I can back from running my errand, everything was closed off. You could not go down St. Georges to walk down this way.” Alexa and Stephanie Rich said.

Residents quickly found flashing lights and fire hoses blocking snow-covered streets, as crews battled flames and the evening winter elements.

“We’ve had the roof and one side of the building collapse,” Brennan said.

Because of the cold weather, the fire department says they had trouble connecting to some of the neighborhood fire hydrants because they were frozen over. Instead, they had to run hose all the way up to Roland Avenue and connect to a hydrant there.

But even in the frigid temperatures, residents watched from snow packed streets, thankful their neighbor survived the inferno.

“It’s just really scary. Like, whoa. You just realize how vulnerable you are. It could have easily happened to any one of us,” Alexa and Stephanie Rich said.

Residents should take it easy when they leave their homes in the morning. Water from the hydrants will likely ice over the already snow-packed streets.

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