Hoarding may have provided the fuel for a fire in Canton that put the lives of a 60-year old woman and her son in jeopardy, Baltimore fire officials say.
The first report of the fire came at 10:45 p.m. Thursday, and within three minutes, the interior of the rowhouse in the 1200 block of South Clinton Street was fully engulfed in flames.
Neighbors tried in vain to reach the two people inside.
"I took the A/C unit out of the first floor window and tried to find them, and they were not able to make it downstairs to the window,” Ben Perovich said. “So they went out to the back deck and the son jumped off first and then the mother jumped second."
As crews worked to board up the burned out row house and workers inspected damage in a pair of vacant buildings on each side of it, Mike Weglein shared cell phone video with ABC2 News that showed flames shooting more than 10 feet into the air from the back of the burning structure.
"I kind of saw this orange hue out of my back window and it was huge so I just went up and woke my wife up. I have a six-year old daughter," Weglein said. "There was a little bit of wind mainly going southeast, but a lot of the wires and transformers were blinking a little bit and little fire balls. So that was the scary part. We're all connected."
The fire spread within a matter of minutes.
"With the extreme conditions, we tried to fight it from inside, but it was entirely too dangerous so firefighters exited the building," said Samuel Johnson with the Baltimore City Fire Department.
A lifetime's worth of possessions are now reduced to char and ash, but the victims can count themselves lucky after their split second decision to jump enabled them to escape with their lives.
"Second floor deck... second floor balcony... over the top of that. It was quite a fall,” Perovich said. “There was no other way."
The woman who jumped suffered minor burns, but is expected to make a full recovery.