Firefighters began to pick up their hoses Thursday morning as investigators descended on a city block in Southwest Baltimore seeking a cause to a fire that burned 10 rowhouses and killed a pregnant woman and her two young sons. Grieving relatives gathered around the corner from the fire — in the 600 block of S. Pulaski St. — sitting on steps of their neighbors and crying into their arms. A family friend who lived on the same street and played football with the children said the mother was 37 and her two sons were 7 and 12.
Albert Roberts, 22, said the dead woman’s husband ran up the street as flames erupted from the rowhouse about 1:30 a.m., screaming, “Where my babies at.” Roberts went into one house to get the occupants out and said he tried to get into another but was pushed back by the heat.
Dominique Payton, who lives next door to the house where the fire started and the victims died, said he got his 3-year-old daughter out safely and then rushed back inside, ran up the stairs and grabbed his 4-month-old girl.
By the time he got back downstairs, he said his front porch was on fire and he had to escape out the back. “It was scary,” Payton said.
Chief Kevin Cartwright, a Fire Department spokesman, said that several houses were ablaze when the first firefighters arrived on Pulaski Street about 1:30 a.m. Nearly 100 firefighters battled the blaze as wind drove flames from front porch to porch.
The victims were found inside a rowhouse at 629 S. Pulaski St. Cartwright said neighbors reported a possible fourth victim, and officials brought in a dog to search through debris. But the spokesman said later there were no other victims. Relatives of the people who died did not want to talk to reporters.
Chelsea Martin, 21, who lives a few houses away from the fire in the same block, was asleep with her daughter Mariah, 3, in their upstairs bedroom when a neighbor came to the door and yelled at them to get out. She said she grabbed her daughter and ran to the street.
“It was horrible. When I got out of the house, all I saw was a wall of flames and everything collapsing.”
No cause has been determined.