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Fire claims the life of 93-year-old man

Southwest Baltimore community mourns loss
Posted at 5:30 AM, Apr 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-10 17:38:31-04

They gather in the 400 block of South Vincent Street surveying the charred rubble from the fire that took a life and so much more.

"We saw the smoke coming through my ceiling and we ran upstairs and we were like, 'Nothing's on fire here', and I was like, 'Oh my goodness.  Mr. Tom.  Next door,'" said Samantha Bradds, the victim’s neighbor.
    
Mister Tom, who at 93 years old, had seen it all over the decades and willingly shared it with his neighbors, many of whom thought of him as a grandfather of sorts.

"He lived here probably 50 (or) 60 year,” recalled Bradds, “He did neighborhood walks and he always stood at his front door and talked to everybody that came by, and even before that, he used to sit out front early in the morning and talk to the kids that were going to school about baseball and stuff like that.  He was a really, really nice man."  
    
He was the kind of man that people risk their own lives to save even if it means running into a burning rowhome.

"So I kicked the door in and ran in and I was like ducking down through the smoke on my face,” said Paul Miller, by all rights, a Good Samaritan, “and I felt on the couch and he wasn't lying on the couch and I tried feeling the chair and he wasn't lying on the chair and I knew normally he sleeps on the couch or upstairs in the front room and I tried to go up the steps.  The flames came right down the steps and pushed us all back."
    
Those same flames consumed the two-story dwelling wiping away a pillar of the community and most of his lifelong possessions leaving his family to mourn their loss, along with an entire neighborhood that claimed him as its own.

"He'd been around here for a long time,” said Miller, “Ever since I was a kid he'd been living there.  He used to own a garden down the street and he would take us down there to the garden when we were kids and all that.  It's just sad to see him go.  I tried my best though."