Fires in warehouse properties have declined substantially over the past 30 years, from 4,700 in 1980 to 1,200 in 2011. However, a huge blaze that started in a warehouse in the Fairfield area of South Baltimore took 118 firefighters and 36 pieces of equipment to fully extinguish, according to The Baltimore Sun.
The call first came in around 6:45 the morning of Monday, September 5. Those in the area say a large cloud of smoke remained visible throughout the day.
Even though the cause of the four-alarm fire hasn’t yet been determined, it’s been confirmed that nobody was injured. Considering that between firefighters and other workers whose lives are on the line in their line of work, 13 deaths occurred every day in 2015, the fact that nobody was injured is fortunate.
However, there is significant damage to the 94,000-square-foot warehouse. Owned by a secondhand textile company called Whitehouse and Schapiro LLC, it contained various packing supplies, toys, and clothing.
“The damage looks extensive,” wrote company president William Schapiro in an email. “Our concerns right now are for our employees … suppliers and customers worldwide. Finding alternate ways to process our merchandise during the rebuilding of our plant.”
Baltimore Fire Department spokesperson Roman Clark said that crews had been expected to be on scene overnight to fully extinguish the blaze. He also said that multiple parts of the warehouse’s roof and rear wall had fallen.
“This is why we’re in an exterior operation. We’re trying to keep everyone safe,” said Clark. “We also have a safety collapse zone that’s set up, so in the event that additional walls do fall, all of our members will be safe…This is a very labor intensive situation we have right now.”
The day of the blaze, Patapsco Avenue was closed between 9th and 12th streets. It eventually reopened when fire crews cleared the scene.
Whitehouse and Schapiro, LLC is a business that collects items Goodwill is unable to sell, recycles them, and ships them to various locations around the globe.
Those in the surrounding neighborhoods say the air reeked of a strong, chemical-filled smoke for the entirety of the day, according to Baltimore Brew. Westport, which is about two miles away from the location of the fire, was reported to be the most effected.
“I just got home and the air smells incredibly awful,” said Keisha Allen, president of the Westport Neighborhood Association. “It smells like an electrical fire.”
Kat Ballard, another witness, says she knew something was ‘off’ as soon as she left her residence this morning prior to 7 a.m.
“You could see the smoke all the way to Laurel. I took my husband to Arundel Mills, and we could see the smoke, and it was thick. It looked like the whole place was on fire. I thought the entire city was on fire,” said Ballard.
Resident Charles Hynes, age 55, said that he, too, was “shocked” by the cloud of smoke. His sentiments seemed to encompass those of other witnesses and fire officials as well.
“It’s just crazy around here. This whole neighborhood is crazy,” Hynes said. “There’s always something.”