1 adult, 4 children killed in Baltimore house fire

October 11, 2012 - 9:34 AM
APTOPIX Fatal Baltimore Fire

Barbara Hopkins, left, hugs her grandson, whose nickname was only given as Mick, outside of Hopkin's son's house in Baltimore, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, where an early morning fire claimed the lives of an adult and four children. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

BALTIMORE (AP) — An intense fire that ripped through a Baltimore row house early Thursday has claimed the lives of an adult and four children, a fire official said.

Fire department spokesman Chief Kevin Cartwright said firefighters were called around 2 a.m. and arrived to find heavy fire and smoke coming from the first and second floors of the home.

There were "intense flames coming out of every window and door in this structure," Cartwright said. "It looked like an inferno, and it's surprising that anyone survived in this fire."

Hours later, family members and neighbors stood on a sidewalk near the home, crying and consoling one another. Against a morning chill, many wore hoodies and held each other in long embraces. Some relatives stood speechless, their eyes welling with tears.

One man jumped from a second-floor window to escape the blaze, Cartwright said. The man was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center for treatment, where he was in stable condition. Others, including a woman who handed a baby out of the home, escaped before firefighters arrived at the scene. Cartwright said he believes the baby is in good condition.

Firefighters found the bodies of five people during a search and rescue operation. The victims are believed to be a grandmother and four grandchildren, Cartwright said. Their identities were not immediately released.

Two firefighters were injured while battling the blaze when one fell through the second floor of the home into the basement. Both firefighters were taken to Bayview and were in stable condition.

The fire was brought under control around 3:45 a.m. Hours later, officials were still at the scene investigating while about 20 neighbors watched from a roped-off area. The exterior of the two-story brick home was blackened, and wood beams in the roof were visible.

Barbara Hopkins, who was standing outside, said her son had been in the fire and was being treated for third-degree burns at Bayview.

"He's severely burned," she said. "This is awful."

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Associated Press writer Karen Mahabir in Washington contributed to this report.