BALTIMORE (WJZ) — An investigation continues Monday into what caused a large fire at five northwest Baltimore townhouses late Sunday. Five people, including two children, were injured in the blaze.
City officials said the victims were a 54-year-old man, a 45-year-old man, a pregnant woman and children ages 3 and 4. They remained hospitalized in serious condition until three were released from the hospital.
The other two are now in stable condition, though the fire department did not say which victims were released.
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Update from 3-Alarm fire. Three victims were released from the hospital and 2 others remain in the hospital in stable condition. #BCFD worked through the night to extinguish the fire. The cause remains under investigation. pic.twitter.com/xB3TKthVs3
— Baltimore Fire (@BaltimoreFire) October 12, 2020
When firefighters arrived, at least five homes were engulfed in flames.
Baltimore Gas & Electric crews were called to the scene to shut off the gas and electric as firefighters battled the blaze. In a statement Monday morning, BGE said no gas leaks were detected:
“BGE responded to the scene last night at the Fire Department’s request to shut off gas and electric service in the area as a standard safety precaution. BGE crews worked throughout the night to canvass the area and found no readings of gas. Gas service pipes leading to the homes were pressure tested by BGE crews overnight under the oversight of Maryland Public Service Commission inspectors and were found to have no leaks. BGE’s records for this area show no recent leaks, no repairs or active project work and no gas odor calls in the last 12 months. The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Fire Department. We are working with the Fire Department to ensure continued safety and to aid in its investigation.”
Baltimore City Fire Chief Niles Ford said they are trying to determine the habitability of the surrounding townhomes.
Fire officials continue to look into the cause and origin of the fire.
‘It Just Exploded’
Neighbors told WJZ they heard a loud boom before they saw flames and smoke coming from homes along the 2600 block of Virginia Avenue near Lanier Avenue in the Park Heights neighborhood. Eyewitnesses said they heard another loud boom. The flames and smoke could be seen for blocks; Baltimore County residents reported hearing and feeling the boom.
— Avajoye Burnett (@AvajoyeWJZ) October 12, 2020
Jacqueline, a neighbor, said she has lived on Edgecombe Circle for over 20 years and has never seen anything like this.
“I heard a boom,” Jacqueline said. “It shook everything. I thought it was an earthquake or something.”
For Jakerra McCoy, Sunday night was not just a fire.
“This, it just exploded, it blew up, it blew up,” McCoy said.
The DoorDash delivery driver said she witnessed exactly what happened around 10 p.m. Sunday night.
“The front of the house blew out and it was like a big fire blowing out into the street. The houses started falling down and they started falling and people were panicking and everything went up in flames,” McCoy said.
Through tears, she remembered calling 911.
“There were people screaming over there, and it was a big fire, and it was huge and I didn’t know what to do,” McCoy said.
Monday, she’s traumatized thinking what could have been.
“I’m really shooken [sic] up, I could have been over there,” she said.
Jordan Furlow lives in the townhomes a block away from the scene on Lanier Avenue Sunday night and he and his wife felt their house shake.
“We just heard a big real loud explosion and at first we thought it was a door slamming but then we looked out the window we saw people running,” Furlow said.
To see the damage in the daylight is almost unreal.
“You don’t expect nothing like this to happen right behind you,” Furlow said.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing some of the injured with burns on their skins. Neighbors gave sheltered to displaced residents on their porches as first responders arrived.
Mayor Jack Young tweeted, “Our thoughts and prayers are with them and we hope for a speedy recovery for all.”
Today, we visited the site of the 3 alarm fire on Virginia Avenue. Currently, we have 5 residents in the hospital with serious injuries and the cause of the fire is still under investigation. Our thoughts are prayers are with them and we hope for a speedy recovery for all. pic.twitter.com/TXBcYcTxg4
— Mayor Bernard C. Jack Young (@mayorbcyoung) October 12, 2020
Council President Brandon Scott said his office will remain on scene to provide updates as they come in.
— Rachael Cardin (@RachaelCardin) October 12, 2020
The Baltimore City Department of Housing will distribute and collect donations for residents impacted by the fire.
BGE reminder customers: as always, if customers have any gas safety concerns, get to a safe location and report it to BGE immediately by calling (877) 778-7798 or by calling 911. BGE will respond 24 hours a day to investigate and make the situation safe. For additional information about gas safety and what to do in a gas emergency visit www.bge.com/gassafety.