Closed Station Blamed for Baltimore Fatal Fire

Outraged members of a southwest Baltimore community said that if the nearest fire station had not been closed, a friend and neighbor who died in a fire Saturday might still be alive.


BALTIMORE --

Outraged members of a southwest Baltimore community said that if the nearest fire station had not been closed, a friend and neighbor who died in a fire Saturday might still be alive.

The fire broke out early Saturday in the 1900 block of Griffins Avenue near Washington Boulevard, killing 59-year-old James Wise, according to officials.

The closest station did not respond because it was part of the city's rotating closures as a cost-saving measure. By the time a search and rescue truck did respond, Wise had already died of burns and smoke inhalation, officials said.

"This was unacceptable. They're two seconds away and they could have come down here and done something," said neighbor Christine Mokriski.

Dionte White and a friend said they saw the fire and rushed in to try and save Wise, but the smoke and flames were too intense.

In an e-mail sent to 11 News, Local Union 734 said, "Stop playing firehouse roulette. How many more people have to die before enough is enough. Fully fund the Baltimore City Fire Department."

But Fire Department spokesperson Chief Keven Cartwright said just one breath of toxic smoke can be deadly, and he said the response time of surrounding companies was not a factor in Wise's death.

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