BALTIMORE — By the time firefighters could answer the call at the Edmondson Village Shopping Center, the fire had already started down its destructive path.
"Immediately upon entering one of the businesses, they were face with heavy fire and smoke that quickly spread to multiple businesses in the Edmondson Village Shopping Center,” said Blair Adams of the Baltimore City Fire Department, “The fire began to be so intense and the smoke was so strong and thick that they called out additional alarms."
Three alarms in all, as fire crews from neighboring Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties all joined in trying to contain the fire, which ultimately spread to 10 businesses in all.
Businesses with products ranging from groceries and medicine to hairstyling and fast food, which will be sorely missed in this community.
"I just had to come up here and see it for myself and just look at it," said Jason Born, a regular customer.
"Seeing pictures and everything like that, it really traumatized me,” added his mother, Keisha Brown, “So seeing it firsthand like this, I'm just really a nervous wreck."
At daybreak, some business owners and their families returned to find out what, if anything, remained.
"It's sad. Horrible,” said a man whose family owns a restaurant that was badly damaged, “It looks like outside like the same thing. Everybody is feeling the same thing."
The shopping center has been a mainstay in the community for more than 70 years, and fire officials say has overcome similar fires in the past.
"This isn't the first time that a fire happened in the Edmondson Village Shopping Center,” said Adams, “even dating back to as early as 2008 when we had a four-alarm fire here and then in the late Sixties where we had a six-alarm fire here."
There is a hope that merchants will be just as resilient in overcoming this fire as they have been in the past.
"Don't quit. Rebuild,” said Born, “Keep their head up and don't quit. Rebuild. We'll still be here to help and support."
BGE turned off gas service to the building this morning, but we're told the large gas main, which feeds the center did not in any way contribute to the fire.
There are four schools closed as a result of the ongoing fire. Edmondson-Westside High School, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, Wildwood Elementary School, Baltimore International Academy West will all be closed today.
ALERT: Due to road closures and low water pressure as a result of a fire at Edmondson Village Shopping Center, 4 schools are closed today, Fri, Nov. 22 - Edmondson-Westside High School, Thomas Jefferson E/M School, Wildwood E/M School, and Baltimore International Academy WEST.
— Baltimore Schools (@BaltCitySchools) November 22, 2019