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A call to action : Baltimore City launches multi-agency fire safety sweep in Highlandtown following deadly fire

Baltimore City launch multi-agency fire safety sweep in Highlandtown following deadly fire
Baltimore City launch multi-agency fire safety sweep in Highlandtown following deadly fire 02:51

BALTIMORE - The Baltimore City Fire Department launched a Multi-Agency Fire Safety initiative to protect citizens from the dangers of residential homes fires, provide educational literature and install smoke alarms for residence in need.

This comes after a deadly row home fire in East Baltimore's Highlandtown neighborhood on February 27.

"They were asleep," Highlandtown resident Antonia Mejia told WJZ in Spanish. 

The community continues to mourn three people– including two children– who died in a row house fire Tuesday morning. 

An 8-year-old boy, his 13-year-old sister and their 22-year-old cousin died from the rowhome fire, which also left 19 displaced.

The family of Guatemalan immigrants lived together.

Mejia lived just two doors down from the victims. 

On March 1, Mejia told WJZ nine people were living in the Mejia household, 7 adults and two children.

Mejia spoke to WJZ again on Saturday holding her country's —- Honduras — flag in hand.

"Grateful to God and for all of the people that are here," said Mejia.

On Saturday, Mejia joined multiple city agencies and firefighters held a neighborhood sweep— going door-to-door with fire safety tools to make sure a tragedy like this doesn't happen again,

Some neighbors shared video of inside their damaged home

Mejia and others returned to East Lombard Street in Highlandtown to visit and stop by the growing memorial, but this time she wasn't alone— she had the entire city wrapped around her. 

"Just thinking about losing two children. Those young lives taken in such a horrific way — is  so deeply painful for our community and for all of us," said Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen. 

"That is our mission and in order to provide safety plans in case of a fire," said Lenora Henry, the executive director of the Red Cross of Central Maryland..

"Both government, private and even just community volunteers are here to provide education to residents in this area. And really hone in on the need for smoke detectors," said James Wallace, Chief  of the Baltimore City Fire Department.

But most of all, leaders said this outreach initiative is a call-to-action to prompt residents to check and test their smoke alarms. 

"This is a really important message and the message is a fire can start anywhere, anytime. And you have to be prepared," said Bill Ferguson, Maryland's Senate President.

Fire investigators also confirmed to WJZ there were no working smoke alarms in the home where the three family members died. 

"But we don't have to have this happen in our city,"  said Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. "We want every single family, every single household to have a fire safety plan. But also everyone in Baltimore should have a working smoke detector because we will give it to you for free."

Although many homes along East Lombard are now damp and charred-– they know they will one day start over. 

"Grateful God has always kept us together as a family," said Mejia. 

"While this was an awful event, we remain an incredibly resilient community and city," said Cohen.

Any Baltimore City resident in need of a working smoke alarm is urged to call 311 and within a few hours a representative from the Baltimore City Fire Department will arrive at their home to install them on each level of the home for free. 

Breath of God Lutheran Church, in Highlandtown, is still collecting donations to help family's and neighbors recover. They are raising money for temporary housing, clothing, food and furniture.

Pastor Mark Clark with the church is coordinating donation efforts for the families impacted. Donations can be made online or by visiting the church in person at 141 S. Clinton St.

A number of agencies participated in the neighborhood fire safety sweep:

  • The Baltimore City Fire Department

  • The Hispanic Commission

  • Baltimore Police Department

  • CASA Baltimore (

  • Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods Safety and Engagement (MONSE)

  • Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs (MIMA)

  • Central Maryland Chapter of the American Red Cross (ARC)

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