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Vacants and Violence: Neighbors Call For Action After Body With Gunshot Wounds Found In Burning Baltimore Home

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Firefighters made a horrifying discovery once inside the row home that caught fire in Southwest Baltimore Sunday: the body of a man with gunshot wounds.

When they first arrived at 325 Furrow Street, the house was engulfed in flames. A firefighter was injured while battling the blaze.

WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren spoke to a person who said he moved out of that house less than one month ago. 

"Everything was calm. I don't know what happened," he said. "It's very scary. You see one person, and you won't see them again until who knows."

That row home is now a gutted shell, black with soot. 

Firefighters worked together to remove its various charred contents overnight.

During the day, about 20 hours after the fire, a city crew cleaned up the debris.

But the structure was still not secure on Monday evening, its gaping windows providing a view to the tragic events on Sunday. 

The former resident said he did not know the victim but believed his friend's dog died in the fire. Police have yet to release the victim's name.

"She was a great little pit bull . . . followed me everywhere I went," the former resident said. "They need to condemn some of these places and rebuild. It's a sad situation because there aren't maybe five people who live on this block. It's very sad."

Police said the house was vacant. It is one of almost 800 vacant homes in the Carrollton Ridge neighborhood alone—and one of more than 14,000 vacant houses in the city.

WJZ highlighted the community in a recent investigation mapping Baltimore's violence and vacant houses.

In addition to the blight of numerous vacant properties, Carrollton Ridge has one of the highest concentrations of homicides in the city.

There have been at least 11 shootings and 5 homicides since the start of the year.

"Bullets have no names so I'm scared. It makes me sick to my stomach knowing I have to go somewhere by myself," longtime resident Donna Taylor told Hellgren in April. She rushed to aide her neighbor after he was shot earlier this year. That neighbor, Charles Rheubottom, later died and the case remains unsolved.

Charlene and her husband have lived on Furrow Street for 11 years, just a block from the recent fire. 

"I think it's awful because people don't care about human life," she said. 

Charlene also called for the city to do something about the vacant houses. 

"At some point, I say tear them down because some are falling down," she said.

Many people are hopeful city leaders will act—as they are frightened over the violence and watch almost daily as more homes crumble around them.

For example, another house in Carrollton Ridge caught fire while homicide detectives and arson investigators were still examining the charred house on Furrow Street.

The fire started in the early hours of Monday morning.

That is when firefighters were sent to battle the flames that chewed away at the one inhabitable structure among another cluster of vacant houses in the 1800 block of Eagle Street.

WJZ reached out to the registered owner of the home where the body was found. He has an address in Maryland's Washington, DC suburbs. WJZ did not hear back from him by Monday night.

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