Baltimore Firefighter Killed, Two Hurt in Blaze

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A firefighter was killed early Tuesday battling an intense, two-alarm fire that quickly engulfed a row home in Greektown, causing a floor to collapse on top of him, fire officials said.

Allen Roberts, 40, was the first city firefighter killed in the line of duty since 1995. The 19-year veteran is survived by a wife and four children, a fire department spokesman said. Firefighters were called to the home about 2:30 a.m. and found the building engulfed in flames. Two residents jumped from a second floor window to escape the intense heat and received minor injuries, said fire spokesman Chief Kevin Cartwright.

One neighbor, Jerry Wloczewski said he saw the man who lived in the home sitting on the edge of the second story window as smoke plumed behind him and neighbors urged him to jump to safety. The woman already had escaped. Wloczewski said the couple lived in the home with several cats, which apparently did not escape.

The fire was reported about 2:30 a-m in the 500 block of South Macon Street in the Greektown area. WJZ'S Mary Bubala spoke to Fire Department spokesman Chief Kevin Cartwright says the first units reported heavy fire and smoke coming from a two-story brick row home.

Roberts and two other firefighters were fighting the fire on the first floor when parts of the second floor collapsed, trapping the men inside. The department's rapid intervention team pulled them to safety within minutes, Cartwright said.

Neighbor Angela Marouffi said the firefighters had been on scene about 20 minutes when the roof collapsed. Wloczewski said his wife said she heard a whooshing sound and he saw the firefighters frantically trying to rush into the building. "There was three or four of them trying to kick down the door and get in there," Wloczewski said.

A short time later, two firefighters emerged carrying one firefighter, the neighbor said. The men were taken to the Bayview Medical Center. Roberts was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival from burns and injuries from falling debris.

Firefighter Brandon Maddox, a paramedic apprentice, was being treated for serious burns to his hand, Cartwright said. Firefighter James Butler was treated and released.

Cartwright said Roberts will be sorely missed. "We used to work together quite a bit," the spokesman said.

"He was a great guy to know -- a lot of fun." The Ruck Funeral Home on Harford Road is handling funeral arrangements, which have not been completed.

The last firefighter to die in the line of duty was Eric Schaefer, 23, who was killed fighting a 19th-century building in the Clipper Mill Industrial Park in September 1995. Schaefer had recently been married and had been on the department for about a year when he was killed.

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Republished with permission of WJZ-TV.

Baltimore City Fire Service

BALTIMORE, MD - An altered water heater has been determined to have caused a blaze here Tuesday that claimed the life of Baltimore City firefighter.

Allen Roberts and two other firefighters were hitting flames on the first floor when part of the second floor collaposed, trapping them. They were pulled from the burning structure in Greektown by a RIT team.

Roberts was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Investigators have determined that the house had "no legal gas or electrical hookups," said Kevin Cartwrigt, a city fire department spokesman.

A short in the "altered" water heater ignited nearby combustibles and basement walls, he said.

The probe remains under investigation.

Funeral Information

Visitation for Firefighter Roberts will be held Saturday, Oct. 14 and Sunday, Oct. 15 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Ruck's Funeral Home, Rucks Funeral Home 5305 Harford Road Baltimore, MD 21214.

A funeral service will be held Monday, Oct. 16 at 10:30 a.m. at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 North Charles Street Baltimore, MD 21210.

Burial will follow at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens, 200 East Padonia Road, Timonium, MD 21093.

Those interested in attending with apparatus contact Lt. William Raab at 410-960-7128. Those interested in attending or color guard call Michael Hineline at 443-992-3466.

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