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3 Firefighters Killed, 1 On Life Support After Fire Collapses Baltimore Rowhouse

Baltimore, MD – Three Baltimore firefighters were killed and one remains in critical condition after a vacant home collapsed on them while they were responding to a fire Monday morning.

The incident began at approximately 6 a.m. on Jan. 24, when the Baltimore Fire Department (BFD) received a report that a vacant three-story rowhouse was ablaze in the 200-block of South Stricker Street, WBFF reported.

Fire crews responded to the house, which was adjacent to occupied homes, Baltimore Fire Chief Niles Ford told WJZ.

Sometime after they entered the building, a portion of the structure collapsed, trapping four firefighters inside.

“Mayday!” multiple trapped firefighters alerted in the aftermath, according to WBFF.

Chief Ford said one firefighter was rescued from the building immediately after the collapse, WJZ reported.

Two others were pulled out of the building within the hour.

While crews worked to extricate the fourth trapped firefighter, medical personnel tried to save the lives of the other three, WJZ reported.

Chief Ford said two of the injured firefighters were rushed to University of Maryland R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, where they were pronounced dead, CNN reported.

The fourth firefighter died at the scene.

The fallen firefighters were identified as Lieutenant Paul Butrim, EMT/Firefighter Kenny Lacayo, and Firefighter/Paramedic Kelsey Sadler, WJZ reported.

Butrim and Sadler served the BFD for 15 years.

Lacayo had been with the agency for seven years.

EMT/Firefighter John McMaster, a six-year veteran of the department, remained on life support at Shock Trauma in critical, but stable condition late Monday, Shock Trauma Chief Physician Thomas Scalea told WBFF.

Scalea warned McMaster’s injuries have the potential to worsen, and that the medical team is “keeping a very, very close eye on him,” The Baltimore Sun reported.

Those who tried to save Butrim, Lacayo, and Sadler are heartbroken over their deaths.

“We pride ourselves on bringing our A-game,” Scalea. “Sadly, this morning our A-game wasn’t enough.”

“Every day our firefighters, our first responders put their lives on the line for the sake of others,” Chief Ford said, according to WJZ. “From this moment, we will honor those we lost today, for their bravery, their courage, their love for helping others and the respect they had for the Baltimore City Fire Department.”

The exact cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

In addition to his service with the BFD, Lacayo was also a Wheaton Volunteer Rescue Squad (WVRS) firefighter, paramedic, and a founding member of the Honor Guard, the department said in a Facebook post on Monday.

He was chosen as Paramedic of the Year in 2016, and was names a “top ten responder” in both 2015 and 2016, the WVRS said.

In 2018, Lacayo was presented with a unit citation for helping save the life of a pedestrian who was hit by a car.

“His exceptional skills as a firefighter and paramedic were matched by his bright smile and his unfailing good nature,” the WVRS said. “He was dearly loved by his fellow WVRS volunteers and will be greatly missed.”

Butrim was also recognized for his heroic actions during his nearly two decades of service with the BFD, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Firehouse Magazine awarded him its Award of Valor in 2015, after he ran into a burning apartment and rescued a child from a bedroom.

Butrim then performed CPR on the child until more help arrived.

“This is a gut-wrenching tragedy for our city, the Baltimore City Fire Department, and most importantly the families of our firefighters,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said, according to WJZ. “There are no words to describe the pain and the severity of the losses we have suffered today.”

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan ordered flags be lowered to half staff in honor of the firefighters who lost their lives trying to help others, WJZ reported.

“Our hearts are broken for the entire Baltimore City Fire Department as three of our bravest have fallen in the line of duty,” Hogan said. “Each and every day, our firefighters and first responders answer the call and are ready to run into danger—this is our worst nightmare.”

The rowhouse was last inspected on Jan. 4, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The inspector determined the front of the vacant residence was properly cleaned and boarded at that time.

Three other firefighters were injured while battling another fire at the same location in 2015, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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