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One dead, two injured in early morning Southwest Baltimore fires

Posted at 6:31 AM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-19 08:32:38-05

BALTIMORE — A series of Monday early-morning fires in Southwest Baltimore left one person dead and two more with serious injuries.

Three fires in just two hours time, all a block or two from each other, and in each case, the buildings were supposed to be vacant.

By the time firefighters arrived at the rowhouse in the 200 block of South Bentalou Street, flames had spread through its three floors, which were supposed to be empty.

"There was an adult male that jumped out of the third story window, and he was taken and transported to the hospital in serious condition. In addition to that, when firefighters were conducting their secondary search, they located the body of an adult male on the third floor," explained Baltimore City Fire Department spokesperson Blair Adams.

Less than a block away, firefighters also had to extinguish a fire that spread through a vacant bar. A few hours earlier on nearby Furrow Street, where Margaret Arnold has lived for more than 40 years, yet another fire in a vacant forced a woman to jump from the second floor. Arnold says that's not unusual in this neighborhood.

"One house got set on fire three times. They burnt the same one. Why would they burn the same one three times?" said Arnold.

As investigators continue to explore whether the three fires are connected, Tim Mekson says they share one thing in common,

"So many houses are vacant. There's so many people going in and trying to stay out of the cold."

Yet a fire in a row of houses puts everyone at risk.

"They knocked on the door and said, 'We need to check your house out. There's a fire two doors down, and I actually had smoke coming in my house," said Arnold.

And thus far, residents say their requests for the city to address the vacant homes has fallen on deaf ears.

"They need to come in and board all the houses where no one can get in them or it's always going to keep happening. They say they're on top of it. We call 311 and they say, 'We'll come out and do it.' They never come," said Mekson.

At this point, the fire department has not released the name of the victim who died in one of the fires, as they attempt to identify him and notify his next of kin.