By Mike Schuh

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Overnight, the residents of an assisted living facility in northwest Baltimore were endangered when a massive fire broke out next door in a sprawling 100-year-old vacant house.

A three-story vacant house caught fire at 2 a.m. Tuesday. It was so big that it started heating up a small assisted living facility next door. That building then caught fire and had to be evacuated. Firefighters rescued five residents.

In the middle of the night resident Peggy Hammond could feel the heat through the walls.

“You could see the fire coming through the window,” she said.

[REPORTER: “You could feel it?”] “Yes,” Hammond replied.

Other residents from upstairs awakened her and her husband.

“It was horrifying. We were scared, we didn’t know what to grab first. We were able to get to the porch, then the firefighters helped us across the street. The fire was coming through the windows as we were getting out,” Hammond said.

When firefighters arrived, they set up to battle the blaze in the vacant home, but quickly realized the real threat was to the assisted living facility next door.

Five people live there; three on the first floor, and two upstairs. One of them also is deaf.

“We knew going in that it was an assisted living place, so the firefighters immediately began looking for tenants,” said Baltimore Fire Public Information Officer Blair Skinner.

Those on the first floor were able to make it to the front porch, while those upstairs needed assistance from rescuers to get down the steps. All made it out safely.

Peggy’s husband, who has trouble getting around, required a couple of hours of observation in an ambulance across the street.

Just after dawn, their daughter came to pick them up. She took in a scene where all of the windows of her parent’s facility broken on the side facing the fire. There wasn’t much of the vacant home left to see, just a few charred sticks poking up in the back.

On a windy night where the temperature was pegged at 41 degrees with heavy rainfall, this 2-alarm fire challenged the 60 firefighters sent to put it out.

You know, it could have been a lot worse,” Skinner added. “We’re thankful the firefighters made such an aggressive approach searching for occupants inside of the home.”

No one was injured. The cause is under investigation.

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