By Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Wednesday morning fire in Baltimore sent three people to the hospital, authorities said.
While a Baltimore Police spokesperson initially said investigators believed the fire that damaged four homes in the 300 block of E. 31st Street was started when at least one Pride flag was set on fire, authorities now say there were two separate incidents on the same street in Abell.
The first was a home where Pride flags were set on fire, police said. They said a home on the same street with Pride decor was set on fire, injuring three people.
During a news briefing, Police Commissioner Michael Harrison would only say the cause of the fire is still being investigated after it was initially reported police were looking into the incident as a possible hate crime. The motive remains unclear.
“This is an ongoing investigation to determine facts, to determine the cause, and right now, we’re not prepared or equipped to determine cause or the facts of how it started,” he said.
The fire was reported about 4:30 a.m. in the 300 block of East 31st Street and the first unit arrived within seven minutes, Fire Chief Niles Ford said. He said the fire was contained by shortly before 5 a.m.
Three victims were taken to Shock Trauma for treatment. A 30-year-old woman and 57-year-old man were hospitalized in critical condition, and a 74-year-old man is in serious condition, Ford said.
“We pray for the three individuals that were hurt and seriously injured in this event, we pray for their health,” said Ford. “It is terrible whenever we have fires whenever we have fires. I’m very thankful for the job that our members did.”
Two of the homes suffered significant damage in the fire, with one of them almost completely charred. Four homes on the block were damaged, Ford said.
The police spokesperson said the fire is being treated as a case of malicious burning. Investigators from both the police and fire departments are getting assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, officials said.
“We’re going to allow them time to do their work, as they always do in these instances, to make sure that we figure out what actually happened here so that we can move and accountability fashion at the best way possible,” said Mayor Brandon Scott.
The mayor called on residents to share any information, such as doorbell camera footage, they might have with authorities.
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