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Neighbors on edge after pride-flag provoked arson

Arson investigation underway after three injured in North Baltimore house fire
Posted at 5:08 PM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 18:12:45-04

BALTIMORE  — Those living in the Abell-Charles Village neighborhood are still on edge this evening after a pride flag was set on fire Wednesday morning.

That fire went on to engulf four homes, sending three people to the hospital.

"It's a whole another dimension that I haven’t totally adjusted to yet or been able to process very well yet,” said one long-time resident.

One day after 31st St. was crowded with chaos and concern, the remnants of a massive fire gutting four homes are covered in pride flags.

READ MORE: Arson investigation underway after three injured in North Baltimore house fire

They're the same symbols neighbors believe provoked the act of arson and the same ones, big and small, spreading beyond the block as an act of solidarity.

"This kind of thing that involves killing people or nearly killing people by arson by burning a symbol of equality just doesn't fit with the history or the ambiance of or anything about this neighborhood,” Joann Robinson shared.

While many have been emboldened by the act, some say it's brought about concerns regarding their safety and security.

“We've had a rainbow flag up for about a year. We have 2 small kids. Certainly last night me and my wife talked about, should we keep it up? Are we putting our family in danger? Ultimately 99 percent of the time this is a very safe area and we just felt it was important not to back down and keep it up,” shared Jessica Webber, a neighbor a block over from where the arson happened.

Neighbors believe it won't be long before investigators upgrade the arson to a hate crime.

“I know that they're still investigating it as a possible hate crime, but to have the flag across the street burned and the main house that's burned is the house of the gay flag. It sets you a little on edge and makes you ask what's going on in the world," said Aaron Sheehan, who lives on the same block. "People just want to live their lives and be happy, and I hope it doesn't happen anymore and I hope they find who did it.”

Neighbors say while it's unfortunate the homes were destroyed and people were hurt, some good emerged from the ashes.

“There's this resilience and this sense that we're not going to be defined by what's happened here. We're going to overcome it and do everything we can to help our neighbors get back on their feet,” shared Robinson.

Wednesday evening, the community held a meeting to exchange an suspicious activities around the neighborhood that were potentially connected to the incident.

Both local and federal authorities are investigating the fire as an arson while no suspects have been identified so far.