Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke and flames spreading through the home in the 300 block of Bonsal Street in Southeast Baltimore, and Tom Dee says his 90-year old mother barely made it out alive.
"She was found on an awning,” said Dee. “She got out of the back window and got out and was found on the awning... stretched out on the awning, but she's a tough cookie like I say."
Dee says his mother, Julia Bomhoff, lived in the home with his stepfather, 83-year-old Melvin Bomhoff, and the couple had just returned from spending time at their Florida condo about three weeks ago.
It appears the Bomhoffs were sleeping in separate bedrooms upstairs, and firefighters would later find the body of the family's patriarch when they entered the burnt structure.
"She woke up and saw the smoke and I think she reached out to him and I think he even responded at some point, but I don't think he was able to find his way through," said Dee.
Now, as family members sort through the ashes to salvage what they can of the elderly couple's belongings, nearby neighbors are offering their sympathy mindful that they were just an errant ember away from possibly suffering a similar fate.
"I was so upset. I couldn't believe it,” said 80-year-old Dolores Aquino who lives just across the street. “I never saw blazes like that coming out. It was from the roof. I thought the whole block would go, and then I was scared too because I said, 'Please don't let the wind pick up', because I was afraid it would blow over to my place."
Her son says 90-year-old Julia Bomhoff is in good condition, recovering from smoke inhalation at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, and doctors could release her within the next few days.