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ATF bags evidence from trash near scene of triple fatal fire

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Posted at 5:27 PM, Jan 26, 2022

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Three of Baltimore’s bravest died this week doing the job they loved and while we mourn them, the city has a bit of hope. The firefighter saved from that burning building in South Baltimore is awake and talking. The firefighter’s union said John McMaster is still receiving care for his injuries but appears to be on a good path to recovery.

The fire Monday morning on South Stricker Street claimed the lives of three of his colleagues: firefighter/paramedic Kelsey Sadler, EMT/firefighter Kenny Lacayo, and Lieutenant Paul Butrim. Their remains were taken from the medical examiner’s office to funeral homes in Bel Air and Dundalk Wednesday as the fire department, ATF and State Fire Marshal are working to figure out what caused the fire.

The ATF’s accelerant detection canine, 7-year-old spice, played an integral role in Wednesday’s work. She sniffed through trash cans all up and down the block and found something that ATF crews bagged for evidence. Baltimore Police detectives later fingerprinted and photographed that trash can.

Neighbors looked on as the investigation plays out in their front yards. They can’t help but feel like something could have been done to prevent it.

“If the city would have places around here, shelter for these homeless people to go to, people wouldn’t be going into these old houses and starting a fire,” said Ron. “They just go in there to keep warm and they set the house on fire. You see them going up the street with fire wood and trash cans.”

Across the street from the scene, handyman Larry Knotts is working to restore a privately-owned vacant rowhome. One of 16,000 across the city.

“Not only sad, I get mad. Because why are you not fixing these up? Why you letting them sit? Said Knotts.

He said it can get expensive but he keeps his prices lower to get more work and make it easier for people to afford.

“So I can come in and do what I do, restore them and get some people in there instead of letting them sit around,” said Knotts.

The union started a GoFundMe page to support the victims’ families and in 24 hours it raised more than double the goal.

All proceeds from the Great Fire event Sunday will go to that fund as well.

The BCFD Foundation, Inc. is also accepting donations for Fallen Fighters. All donations will provide financial support to the families of any BCFD FF or Paramedic who suffers a serious injury or death while still an active member of the department.