Three firefighters were killed on Monday and another was critically injured after part of a vacant Baltimore rowhouse collapsed, trapping them inside as they battled a blaze, the authorities said.
The Baltimore Fire Department responded to a call just before 6 a.m. at a three-story home about two miles west of downtown Baltimore, Chief Niles Ford of the Baltimore City Fire Department said at a news conference on Monday afternoon.
After the firefighters became trapped, crews had to remove piles of debris to extricate them, officials said. One was immediately pulled from the fire and taken to a hospital, where he remained in critical condition on Monday afternoon. Two firefighters were later removed from the fire and taken to a hospital, where they were pronounced dead, Chief Ford said. A third firefighter died at the scene.
“From this moment, we will honor those who lost their lives today for their bravery, for their courage, for their love and compassion for this great city, and for the Fire Department as well,” Chief Ford said.
Mayor Brandon Scott of Baltimore said Monday evening that the hospitalized firefighter was in critical condition and “fighting for his life.”
“Baltimore has lost three of the bravest among us,” Mr. Scott said. “This is a gut wrenching tragedy for our city, for our Fire Department, and most importantly, for the families of our firefighters. There are no words — none — to describe the pain and the severity of the losses that we suffered today.”
The three firefighters who died were Lt. Paul Butrim, who had been with the department for 16 years; Kelsey Sadler, a 15-year department veteran; and Kenny Lacayo, who had been with the department for seven years, city officials said.
The hospitalized firefighter, John McMaster, who was on life support on Monday evening, has been with the department for six years, city officials said.
James Sadler, Ms. Sadler’s father-in-law, described Ms. Sadler as a “lovely woman” whom he loved like a daughter.
“When she hugged you, she hugged you like a bear,” he said in a phone interview on Monday night, adding that she had been married to his son for about four years.
“I can’t believe it,” he said. “Words can’t even explain how much I’m going to miss her.”
Dr. Thomas Scalea, physician in chief of the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, said that the two firefighters who were pronounced dead at the hospital had gone into cardiac arrest at the scene, and that they were unable to be resuscitated.
In a statement on Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland ordered that flags across the state be lowered to half-staff to honor the firefighters.
“Each and every day, our firefighters and first responders answer the call and are ready to run into danger,” Mr. Hogan said. “This is our worst nightmare.”
Chief Ford said the cause of the fire was being investigated.
Although the rowhouse was vacant, Mr. Scott said other buildings on the block were not.
“We could be talking about more lives lost if not for the heroics of these folks here,” Mr. Scott said. “That should be the focus of today.”
Alyssa Lukpat contributed reporting.