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Two Baltimore City firefighters die after battling two-alarm rowhome fire, investigation underway

Two Baltimore City firefighters die after battling two-alarm rowhome fire, investigation underway
Two Baltimore City firefighters die after battling two-alarm rowhome fire, investigation underway 03:59

BALTIMORE -- Two Baltimore City firefighters died, and three other firefighters were injured while trying to fight a fire in a Northwest Baltimore neighborhood on October 19.

Baltimore City firefighter dies after battling two-alarm rowhome fire, investigation underway 02:46

Crews responded around 3:30 p.m. to the two-alarm fire at a two-story brick rowhome in the 5200 block of Linden Heights Avenue. The fire spread to three other dwellings.

The firefighters who died in the fire were identified as 31-year-old Rodney Pitts, III, of Engine Company #29, and Dillon Rinaldo, of Engine Company #46, according to the department. 

Pitts had been with the Baltimore City Fire Department for one year and graduated from the fire academy over the summer.  

Rinaldo had been with the department for six years.

At a news conference following the fire, Mayor Brandon Scott said he spoke with Pitts' family, who told him Pitts was excited and proud to be a Baltimore firefighter.

"I think that's what we should be talking about, someone who loved this place so much that they would be willing to risk their lives and, in his case, tragically given his life for the city," Scott said.

Fire Chief James Wallace said he pinned Pitts' badge at his graduation from the Baltimore City Fire Academy. He also said four firefighters are recovering from various degrees of burns.

Fire Chief James Wallace said multiple firefighters suffered from various degrees of burns.

Baltimore leaders announce firefighter died after battling house fire 08:38

"I want to extend my love and my prayers to the families and victims of this tragic event, as well as the members of the Baltimore City Fire Department," Wallace said. "We want them to know we keep them in our prayers and will continue to do so."

Three of the injured firefighters have been released from area hospitals.

Wallace said he met with Rinaldo's family.

"They are deeply hurt, much like our members are," Wallace said. "But, they know that we're wrapping our arms around them, and we're gonna provide them the support that they need."

At Shock Trauma on October 20, members of the Baltimore City Fire Department saluted an outgoing ambulance.

"Tonight, Baltimore lost a hero," Scott said. "One of our bravest and most dedicated public servants, and four others who were injured, each and every one of them put themselves in harm's way and put our lives in front of theirs. Tragically, tonight one of them gave their life for our city."

Firefighters gained entry into the building to perform an interior attack. The injured firefighters were transported to an area hospital.

"Which is when the fire grew in its intensity," Baltimore City Fire spokesperson Kevin Cartwright said. "The incident commander then requested a second alarm to bring in additional manpower and resources to this scene to get control of this fire."

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Wallace said police do not currently have anyone in custody but have conducted several interviews.  

The Bureau of Alcohol Tabacco, Firearms and Explosives said in a social media post on Saturday that its investigators were continuing to process the fatal fire scene.

Nearly two years ago, in January 2022, the Baltimore City Fire Department lost three other fellow firefighters who battled a vicious vacant house fire on Stricker Street.

Lieutenant Paul Butrim, firefighter Kelsey Sadler and EMT Kenny Lacayo were killed after the structure partially collapsed back on January 24, 2022.

Despite investigators releasing person of interest photos in the fire, no arrests were ever made.

The Stricker Street fire led to an uproar over the city's vacant housing crisis and ultimately the department's leadership. 

State, local leaders react to firefighter's death

The death of the firefighter has struck city leaders.

Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby released a statement: "Our city's heart is broken tonight. Words cannot convey the loss we feel tonight as a community. Firefighters are our superheroes. When they're taken from us, that pain feels unimaginable and unbearable. And on a tragic night like tonight, we are reminded of the immense risks they face every single day to keep us and our communities safe.

"The firefighter we lost tonight will be remembered as a hero in this city. Our hearts are with their family tonight and we mourn their loss. We are here to help in any way we can." 

"And we pray that the firefighters still in the hospital have a full and speedy recovery. We want them and all firefighters in the city tonight to know they are in my prayers, and those of my family, City Hall, and a grateful and grieving city." 

The Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police said: "Tonight our prayers are with our Brothers and Sisters at the Baltimore City Fire Department."

Councilman Yitzy Schleifer said: "We are extremely saddened to learn that one of our @BaltimoreFire fighters lost his life in a fire this evening in our district. Our hearts go out to this hero's family in this difficult time."

Baltimore City State's Attorney Ivan Bates released this statement: "My thoughts are with the Baltimore Fire Department tonight as we mourn the loss of a firefighter and pray for the other brave heroes who were injured. We all take for granted when we kiss our loved ones goodbye at the start of the work day that, we will see them return home to us safe and sound. Tonight is not only a reminder of the immense sacrifices that the men and women in the fire department make every day they are on duty but also the sacrifices of their loved ones. I implore everyone to embrace their family members this evening and keep our fire service members in your prayers."

Gov. Wes Moore: "Our entire state grieves for the victims of the fire in northwest Baltimore that took the life of one firefighter and seriously injured four others last night. My heart goes out to all those affected, including the victims' families, friends, and colleagues. We are praying for the swift recovery of those still being treated for wounds as we mourn the loss of EMT/Firefighter Rodney Pitts, III, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. My team has been in close contact with the Baltimore City Mayor's Office, the Baltimore Fire Department, and the International Association of Fire Fighters in the wake of this tragedy. We will continue moving in partnership to protect the lives of our first responders, no matter where they serve."

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