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'I wanted them to know we love them': Community members hold prayer circle for city firefighters

Community members hold prayer circle for city firefighters
Posted at 9:45 PM, Jan 31, 2022

BALTIMORE — On Monday, a dozen or so community members gathered outside Engine 14 Firehouse on Hollins Street to pray for three fallen firefighters and to say thank you to those still serving.

"I wanted them to know that we love them," said community leader Lisa Molock. "I wanted them to know that we appreciate them and that they’re not doing this in vain, that their work is not going unnoticed."

"We love all that you do for us," said Sister Chanelle.

Those associated with Monday night's prayer circle brought flowers, balloons and cards to the fire house.

"Thank you," said one firefighter as he received the items.

The prayer circle comes hours after Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott announced plans to address vacant properties in the city.

Under the mayor's directive, Baltimore City agencies have 30 days to account for efforts underway to reduce the number of vacant properties in the city.

“This is one of the most consequential undertakings of my administration,” Scott said Monday. “There is too much at stake to leave a single recommendation off the table. This is a top priority and ties directly into two of our action plan priority pillars, both equitable neighborhood development and ensuring clean and healthy communities.”

The announcement comes one week after three firefighters, Lt. Paul Butrim, Lt. Kelsey Sadler and firefighter Kenny Lacayo died after a partial collapse while fighting a fire at a vacant home on South Stricker Street. John McMaster, a fourth firefighter who was injured in the same collapse, has since been released from the hospital.

RELATED: Baltimore firefighter released from hospital days after being placed on life support

“This is about operationalizing our commitment,” said Mayor Scott. “Anything less than our very best attempt at solving the problem would be a discredit to the lives of the brave firefighters we lost last week and the residents who we serve day in and day out who have been dealing with this issue for more than three decades.”

As of Friday, there were 15,032 vacant houses across Baltimore, more than 13,000 have private owners according to the city. About one-third of those properties are already slated for rehabilitation, private development, or being prepared for demolition or sale.

As part of the effort, Mayor Scott said the city will tap into its share of federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to help deal with vacant housing.

Baltimoreans aware of the problem say help can't come soon enough.

"There's too many vacant houses," said Lisa Molock. "We know this. The city knows it. It's no secret."