Second 5-Alarmer Rages in Baltimore in 12 Hours


Flames shot through the roof of an office building that also houses restaurants in Mount Vernon early Tuesday as firefighters battled their second major blaze in less than 24 hours.

Crews were called to the 800 block of North Charles Street shortly after 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, and the incident quickly escalated to four alarms within 15 minutes. Shortly before 4:30 a.m., fire officials said they raised a fifth alarm, citing intense fire conditions.

Officials closed Madison Street from St. Paul to Howard streets, and North Charles Street from Centre to Chase streets while fighting Tuesday morning's fire.

Some of the more than 100 firefighters who responded to the blaze also battled an intense fire on The Block Monday afternoon in downtown Baltimore.

"I can't think of a time in roughly 22 years in which the Fire Department has battled two five-alarm fires in less than 24 hours. So, this is a remarkable event for us," Baltimore City Fire Department spokesman Kevin Cartwright said.

Cartwright said fire companies first to arrive at Tuesday's scene found the four-story brick building engulfed in flames. The building occupies Donna's Cafe and My Thai restaurants, in addition to offices on the upper levels.

Cartwright said the fire "spread throughout the structure and ventilated itself through the roof." He said the offices were not occupied at the time of the fire.

"The two businesses -- a coffee shop and the Thai restaurant -- were closed. There was no one reported to be inside, and right now, we're going to be working to try to get this under control," Cartwright said.

Wind gusts and cold weather -- a 27-degree temperature reading -- confronted firefighters. Add in the wind chill, and the conditions outside actually felt like 18 degrees, WBAL-TV 11 Insta-Weather PLUS meteorologist Tony Pann said.

"Heavy wind gusts are fueling this fire and allow it to burn intensely," Cartwright said. "The elements are not kind to us. The temperatures are low, the wind gusts are coming through and it makes it a challenge for them. We commend them for their tenacity and their hard work for battling a fire like this."

One firefighter suffered a minor knee injury while battling the fire, and another experienced chest pains. Both were treated at the scene and taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

Fire officials said getting water to the fire was not a significant concern.

Monday's massive fire on The Block prompted evacuations and disrupted traffic for hours.

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