BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Fire investigators are still trying to determine how a fire started in Southwest Baltimore, leaving two people dead. 

Andrea Fujii has the latest.

Neighbors say the two people who died were well known in the area, and their deaths leave a big hole in the community.

Neighbors say 30-year-old Ernest Ritter– known to his friends as “Ernie”– died Saturday afternoon as he was trying to save his mother, Donna, inside their home in the 400 block of South Fulton Avenue.

“It’s just really heart-wrenching because my children, my grandchildren, are really dealing with a situation they’ve never had to deal with before,” said Sharon Vogel, neighbor and friend.

Neighbors held a candlelight vigil Sunday night and took time to reflect on the lives that were lost.

“It’s like you’re here one minute with somebody, and the next you’re trying to think about oh well, that could’ve been you. What if you were there and you were in his place? It’s like losing a family member. He was a family member,” said Edith Knickman, neighbor.

Ernie and Donna were both trapped on the third floor of their house, and although firefighters say they arrived within two minutes they were dead before anyone could get to them.

“We established a water supply immediately. First unit on the scene was an engine company, truck company rolled up right behind them. They established a water supply and gained entrance as quickly as possible,” said Captain Roman Clark, Baltimore City Fire Department.

“Now where they’re at and where they’re going to be going, they’re going to be resting in peace, and they’re not going to be suffering no more,” Vogel said.

A fire department spokesperson says it appears the two died from heavy smoke inhalation. A cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Firefighters say they also found a dead pet inside the home but couldn’t say if it was a cat or dog.        

At least two firefighters were also injured with minor burns.

Comments (7)
  1. Leonard says:

    Points well taken, but when it comes right down to it this young man gave no thought to his own life when it came to his mother. No matter what Ernie was a man of courage and had true love for his mother.

  2. T says:

    First of all, Ernest Ritter was white, so I’m confused about all the negative speak regarding black people that’s stemming from this.

    Second, there’s a lot of judgment going on regarding some one none of you (including myself) knew. Who cares about the picture. Maybe it was chosen because some one thought it was a good shot of him. Maybe it was a joke between friends. None of us know.

    The bottom line is, both he and his mother are gone, and he died trying to save her. In the end THAT speaks to his character more than some random picture.

  3. steve says:

    they wasn’t black they where white and what you do moleman change your name again to the truth

  4. steve says:

    i guess the truth is aka moleman

  5. man says:

    the truth
    hey if you are aka moleman or who ever else they say you are don’t worry about it and don’t waste your time answering those people just post what you gotta post and don’t waste your time fighting with them online its pointless

  6. ashley sutton says:

    you guys need to stop and think he is someones son, someones father, brother and best friend. How would it make u think if that was your kid or even you. So you need to be kind and grow up. He was a great person i knew him personally. He was great with my son and a long time friend of my boyfriend. So i take everything you said to heart and it hurt. But it also shows your ignorance.

  7. Cookie says:

    It is sad that you have to talk about him. It took alot of balls to do what he did. He was my little brother. And i will miss him and my mom. My mom only had me and Ernie and now i am by myself


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