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Chief: 3 Baltimore firefighters killed in vacant home blaze

January 25, 2022 GMT
People embrace one another after a deceased firefighter was put into an ambulance after being pulled out of a collapsed building while battling a two-alarm fire at a vacant row home, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in Baltimore. Officials said several firefighters died during the blaze. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
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People embrace one another after a deceased firefighter was put into an ambulance after being pulled out of a collapsed building while battling a two-alarm fire at a vacant row home, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in Baltimore. Officials said several firefighters died during the blaze. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
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People embrace one another after a deceased firefighter was put into an ambulance after being pulled out of a collapsed building while battling a two-alarm fire at a vacant row home, Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in Baltimore. Officials said several firefighters died during the blaze. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

BALTIMORE (AP) — Three Baltimore firefighters were killed and a fourth was injured when part of a vacant home collapsed while they were battling a blaze early Monday, the city’s fire chief said.

The Baltimore City Fire Department said in a tweet that firefighters were responding to a blaze at the three-story rowhome 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 rowhome immediately and taken to the hospital, where he was listed in critical condition Monday afternoon. Dr. Thomas Scalea of Maryland Shock Trauma said McMaster was on life support.

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

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

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 rowhouses.

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

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Associated Press writers Tom J. Foreman Jr. contributed from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Sarah Brumfield from Silver Spring, Maryland.