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Investigation begins into vacant home fire that killed 3 firefighters

Posted at 6:43 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-04 14:08:39-04

BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Emergency crews from across the state gathered on S. Stricker St. Tuesday to begin investigating a vacant rowhome fire that killed three Baltimore City firefighters.

"It’s a tragic loss for all of us because we are family and we lost a lot of family yesterday," said Brian Geraci, the Maryland State Fire Marshal.

Geraci said the fire service is heartbroken, but they have to focus on figuring out what happened, which is proving to be difficult.

“It’s an enormous task to do in trying to piece things back together when you don’t have the pieces,” said Geraci.

Montgomery County Technical Rescue crews were busy shoring up the structure so investigators can get in and start digging to try to determine the cause and origin of the fire.

Because of the extent of the damage, he said they may not ever be able to determine a cause.

“We know there’s no power to the building. We know there’s no electric to building, those sources have been ruled out. Was it a fire started by someone homeless trying to keep warm?” said Geraci.

His office is working in partnership with Baltimore City and ATF for the investigation.

They are also looking into a 2015 fire at the same address where 3 firefighters were injured.

“So we have some type of comparison of where that fire may have been in 2015 compared to the one yesterday,” said Geraci.

Geraci said he’s not concerned that it’s an arson yet.

“We come into these things with an open mind. We don’t think it’s arson, but we following the leads like any criminal case if it an arson,” said Geraci.

The Baltimore City Fire Department reports that nearly half of all fires in vacant buildings are intentionally set, compared with 10 percent in all other buildings.

Investigators are checking surveillance video and interviewing neighbors and witnesses to put the pieces together.