BALTIMORE (AP) — Six children were presumed dead and their mother and three siblings were injured after an early morning house fire in northeast Baltimore, a fire official said Thursday.
Firefighters found heavy flames coming from all three floors of the home when they answered the call about 12:30 a.m. Thursday, and they attacked the blaze from outside, fire department spokesman Chief Roman Clark said.
“The building was fully engulfed when they arrived on the scene,” he said by telephone.
A woman and three children escaped the home, Clark said. He said the nine children from one family range in age from 8 months to 11 years old.
The woman and two of the children are in critical condition and the third child is in serious condition, Clark said.
Clark said that one body has been found so far.
William Malone said all nine are his children with Katie Malone, who’s a staff member for Rep. Elijah Cummings’ district office.
William Malone told The Associated Press that he was not home at the time of the fire because he was at work for a restaurant. He said one of the three children taken to the hospital after the blaze has since been released.
“I’m still in shock to be honest,” said Malone, who was reached by phone at a relative’s home. He said he does not know what may have caused the fire.
Cummings said Katie Malone has worked as a special assistant in his Catonsville office for nearly 11 years.
“My staff is a family and this unimaginable tragedy is shocking and heartbreaking to us all. I again ask for your prayers,” Cummings said in a statement.
Michael Johnson, 55, who lives a block away and can see the house from his home, described it as a complete inferno.
“Fire was coming out of every window, and as they sprayed it, it seemed like the fire was fighting back or something. It just kept coming and coming and coming. Fire was actually coming out of the sides of the house. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life,” Johnson said.
Johnson, who didn’t know the family, added that he was praying for the people inside.
“It was just so intense,” he said. “I didn’t think anyone would be able to survive it at all.”
Johnson said he saw a woman come out of the house screaming.
WJZ-TV showed two small children sitting up as they were wheeled away on a stretcher and a woman on a stretcher with an oxygen mask over her face. Images from the scene show firefighters dousing the charred shell of the first two stories of the home between two other large three story single-family homes.
The third floor collapsed and the second floor partially collapsed, Clark said.
The cause is under investigation. Crews had to wait for heavy-duty equipment that would allow them to remove debris from the dwelling, he said.
Associated Press reporters Sarah Brumfield in Washington and Alanna Durkin Richer contributed to this report from Richmond. Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafer contributed from New York.