Five people die in Baltimore fire www.privateofficer.com
Baltimore MD Oct 12 2012 Four children and a woman died Thursday morning when a two-alarm fire tore through a brick rowhouse in Northeast Baltimore.
When city firefighters arrived at 5601 Denwood Ave. just after 2 a.m., heavy fire and smoke was coming from the first floor and extending to the second floor, fire department spokesman Chief Kevin Cartwright said. As firefighters hooked up hoses, they saw someone jump from a second-floor window. Relatives of the deceased said a woman first threw her 2-month-old baby to a man below and then jumped herself.
Firefighters arrived shortly after the first alarm, Cartwright said, and the “fire was so intense that the front door was bent inward. It was so intense, I’m surprised anyone survived.”
Cartwright said the victims were found on the second floor, in the back bedroom of the three-bedroom house. The fire in the rowhouse, an end unit in a group of four homes, was officially under control at 3:47 a.m.
According to family member Sharron Fenner, who was on the scene, the victims were her mother 55-year-old Nancy Worrell, Nancy’s 1-year-old great-grandson, James Holden, Jr., and her three grandchildren, K’Niyah Scott, 2; Daryl Stewart,4; and Takyla Manley, 7. Daryl and Takyla attendMoravia Elementary School, family members said.
“Nancy would never leave those children,” said Barbara Hopkins, another family member on the scene and great-grandmother to some of the victims.
Neighbors Laverne and Roger Hawkins were also on the scene. Laverne described the adult victim as “full of life. The primary care-taker of the grandchildren. I know that she died trying to save those kids.”
Her husband Roger added, “I believe she kept the family together. I still can’t believe it. It hurts the heart. The children were all so sweet.” The Hawkins’ shared wall with the end unit was also severely damaged and their bathroom must be replaced, due to smoke and water damage, he said.
Fire investigators and police arson detectives were on the scene this morning. Fire Marshal Raymond O’Brocki III said the fire originated in the basement and that “while the cause of the fire is still under investigation, early indications don’t give rise to any suspicions of arson.”
When asked about the cause of the fire, Cartwright said, “Preliminarily nothing boldly stands out to us that was incendiary, but we are investigating everything.” He added that it’s not surprising some area residents suspect arson, as there were two arson cases in the neighborhood recently.
As officials were performing a search and rescue, one firefighter fell through the second floor to the basement and landed on another firefighter. Both firefighters were transported to BayviewBurn Center with non-life-threatening injuries, Cartwright said.
“Those firefighters were really brave people. They were on the second floor trying to rescue the children,” Roger Hawkins said.
According to Fenner, 19-year-old Shade Worrell, Nancy’s daughter, threw her 2-month-old baby out the second-floor window before jumping out the window herself.
On the scene, Shade Worrell said it was very black and she couldn’t see anything so she threw the baby to Roderick Goodman, a male relative who caught him. Shade Worrell and the baby are unharmed, Fenner said.
Goodman was in the front bedroom of the house when the smoke woke him up. He immediately jumped out the second floor window and was not hurt. Goodman, 19, said he ran to the back of the house and heard Shade Worrell saying, “Help me, help me get my baby.” Said Goodman, “I caught the baby. I wanted to save the whole family.”
“My mother watched over all the children. Her own and all the children on the block,” said Fenner. “She never let a child go hungry. She would always feed them. Her doors were open. She was like the Bea Gaddy of this neighborhood. She never let you leave without saying, ‘See you later’ and ‘I love you always.’”
Neighbor Dana Lane said, “We used to call Nancy the hip-hop grandma. She was a really fun person.”
Other neighbors said Nancy Worrell swept her porch every morning, and would shout greetings down the block to strangers or ask whether family members were well.
In the early morning hours, neighbors gathered at the corner watching small flames poke out of the home’s second-floor windows — and suddenly turn into an inferno.
“At that point, those flames were like an open pit fire,” neighbor Mike Matthews said.
Surviving family members, he said, sat wrapped in blankets across the street and watched the house burn.
“I thought something was wrong because I didn’t see the grandmother and the kids,” Matthews said.
On the scene, City Councilman Brandon Scott said, “All I can do is ask the entire city to wrap their arms around this entire family.”
The American Red Cross of the Chesapeake Region partnered with city agencies to respond to the fire.
An empty MTA bus was brought to the scene to provide temporary shelter for family members to get out of the cold, said Phillip Bovender, a local disaster volunteer and nurse.
The Red Cross was providing breakfast and a mental health counselor for people at the scene, he said, and will provide emergency shelter, food and clothing for those displaced by the fire.
It was not yet clear how many people were displaced.