Baltimore firefighters killed as building collapses in US state of Maryland

Fire chief says three firefighters died and a fourth was injured when part of a vacant home collapsed while they were battling a blaze

Three Baltimore firefighters were killed and a fourth was injured when part of a vacant home collapsed while they were battling a blaze, the city's fire chief has said.

The Baltimore City Fire Department said in a tweet that firefighters were responding to a blaze at the three-storey terraced house on Monday when the four were trapped inside. Crews removed piles of debris to locate the firefighters, the department said.

Chief Niles R Ford told a news conference that injured firefighter John McMaster was pulled from the house immediately and taken to hospital, where he was listed in critical condition on Monday afternoon. Dr Thomas Scalea of Maryland Shock Trauma said Mr McMaster was on life support.

“Fingers crossed that he's going to make it and be just fine,” Dr Scalea said. “It's hard to know at this point.”

Two other firefighters were pronounced dead at the hospital, Chief Ford said.

The fourth trapped firefighter was pronounced dead at the scene, the chief said, his voice breaking at times. Chief Ford identified the dead as Lt Paul Butrim, firefighter/paramedic Kelsey Sadler and EMT/firefighter Kenny Lacayo.

Dr Scalea said Sadler and Lacayo suffered cardiac arrest at the scene and couldn't be resuscitated.

“Today, Baltimore has lost three of the bravest among us,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said. “Baltimore owes them the deepest gratitude and respect that we can offer anybody.”

Photographs from the scene showed firefighters being consoled by their comrades. Later, an excavator cleared the remaining debris, leaving a gap between two row houses.

Three firefighters were injured battling a blaze at the same location in 2015, The Baltimore Sun reported.

An excavator is used to pull debris off a building during efforts to retrieve the body of a deceased firefighter caught in the building's collapse. AP
Updated: January 25, 2022, 3:19 PM