(CNN) — A fire killed six people in Baltimore, Maryland Tuesday morning, authorities said. The blaze at a two-story home in East Baltimore was reported just before 5 a.m., said Kevin Cartwright, a Baltimore Fire Department spokesman.
Firefighters entered the home but had to evacuate because of the fast-moving fire. After extinguishing the blaze, firefighters entered the home again and found five bodies. A sixth victim was found later, Cartwright said. Some of the victims were children, he said, but did not give a number. The relationship between the victims was unknown.
Authorities were still trying to determine if the home had working smoke alarms and what caused the blaze, Cartwright said. Firefighters had completed a search of the structure as of about 7:30 a.m., he said. LINK
Every year firefighters across the country respond to many house fires during the holiday season. Let me tell you there is nothing more heartbreaking than a tragedy at this time of the year. Putting out a fire in a house filled with Christmas decorations and presents is about as traumatic as it gets. Knowing that many families are struggling and have gathered what little resources they have to be together and have a decent Christmas, then watching it all literally go up in smoke is something no firefighter ever wants to see. We all have our own families so jobs like that hit a little too close to home.
As you can see this room is untenable for human life within one minute. It also takes firefighters less than a minute to control the fire. A fast response from the fire department is critical in allowing anyone left in other parts of the house to have a chance of survival. It is often the most vulnerable among us, the elderly the infirm or children that are most at risk and need to be rescued. Unfortunately cutbacks and brownouts have taken their toll on our department and our ability to respond in time.
That’s why it is more important than ever for you to make sure you take precautions to ensure the safety of your family this season. Make sure you keep your tree watered and don’t put it near an exit. Make sure you use only the correct, UL approved lighting (not candles) and check your smoke detectors. Have a safe Christmas.