Memorial garden honors fallen Baltimore City firefighters at site where they died battling blaze
BALTIMORE -- On the corner of South Stricker Street and West Pratt Street in West Baltimore, grass seed is being covered with hay.
Grass is being grown from the ground that held up three vacant rowhouses a year ago.
On January 24, 2022, a two-alarm turned deadly at those row homes.
Now, there is a memorial garden for the firefighters who lost their lives in that two-alarm fire on South Stricker Street.
"Usually when death happens, they just let it bypass or, oh it gets better with time, but for them to use their time and to turn it something so positive was such a good idea," Baltimore resident Desiniesha Roberts said.
Roberts stood outside of her home, with her neighbors, as firefighters worked to put out the fire.
Firefighter Kenny Lacayo and lieutenants Paul Butrim and Kelsey Sadler died fighting the blaze. Their death was ruled homicide by arson.
"I have never seen nothing like that before," Roberts said. "It was so tragic."
It's a tragedy that gripped Maryland and led to Baltimore City launching a program to mark unsafe vacant buildings.
"There was a lot of empathy in that moment, because from the outside looking in, it seems like it's a situation that's isolated, but for us, it was an experience that we have experienced one too many times before," said Kintira Barbour, Mount Clare Community Council President.
Barbour said once the three burnt row houses were demolished, she knew exactly what needed to happen.
"We wanted to make sure that this lot did not go unmaintained," Barbour said. "One of the things that typically will occur with these vacant lots is they will go unmaintained and then they will become sites for illegal dumping and all types of other activity."
The memorial garden is a space where neighbors say they regularly see firefighters come and pay their respects.
The plan is for there to be a bench and table installed.
The hope is for this space to continue to evolve and continue to be a project of healing.
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