BALTIMORE — Surveying the growing pile of charred debris from his neighbors’ apartment next door, Bruce R. Andrews recalls the tense moments as he learned of the fire just after five o’clock in the morning.
“They came and woke me up,” said Andrews. “I was sleeping with a CPAP, and I smelled the smoke. I’m lucky I got out. My house was filled with smoke. Somebody knocked on the door and woke me up.”
Andrews says it’s believed a fault with a small, window air conditioning unit sparked the fire, which authorities say was limited to the first floor, but heavy smoke threatened the lives of the lone occupants of the apartment---a woman and her two small children.
“We don’t know if the little girl is going to make it or the woman yet,” said Andrews.
“And the little boy? He was fine?”
“Yes, he’s fine. He came out. He hurt his arm. He came out through the back window.”
Baltimore City Fire Chief Roman Clark says it is the smoke, not the flames, which usually poses the greatest threat.
“Smoke inhalation is what usually get to people and causes them to be unconscious and sometimes can cause death,” said Clark. “However, we strive on the fact of people having smoke alarms and working smoke alarms within their homes and within their apartments as well. We are currently investigating right now to see if there was a working smoke alarm inside of this apartment.”
It is a threat not lost upon Bruce R. Andrews…
“Smoke. Smoke. The baby did die and they brought her back. The baby did have a heart attack.”
As he anguishes over the fate of his neighbor and her young toddler with whom he has a special bond.
“The little one loved me to death. She used to come to my house all the time. She’s one and a half years old.”
*Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to state that a mother and her two children were hurt. Initially it was understood that three firefighters were injured , not civilians.