The fire in Mount Vernon now has been determined to have been caused by an electrical problem on the first floor of the building that quickly swept through the building’s structure to the roof the Baltimore City Fire Department says.
The fire on The Block downtown is a different story. The federal ATF fire task force has now been brought in to help determine the cause.
Two recent five alarms fires that ripped through historic 100 year old buildings in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon and downtown adult entertainment district have shutdown businesses in those areas.
The double whammy “strikes me as being unprecedented,” said Kirby Fowler, president of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore, an advocacy group. “Other than the 1904 fire, we probably haven’t had this back-to-back incidence of fire in downtown in decades. It’s tough to deal with this.”
The fires are being compared to the Great Fire of 1904 in Baltimore, which consumed over 1,200 buildings. Although not as many buildings were destroyed in the fire days ago, the fires were only 12 hours apart, leading some to believe the fires may have been deliberately set by an arsonist.
The fires have left commuters with a traffic nightmare, forcing road closures during the busy morning rush hours.
The first fire consumed several strip clubs and eateries in the city’s faded adult entertainment district.
The fire in Mount Vernon, the city’s cultural district housing historic museums and institutions, took nearly 12 hours to control.
“We do know [the Mt. Vernon fire] started on a lower floor and went up the building through some pipe chases, got up in the attic space,” Clack said. “The guys did a great job, but it was a very tough fire.”
In Mount Vernon, the restaurants Donna’s, Indigma, My Thai, Thairish and the Helmand were all damaged by the fire and water used to put it out.
Pictures of the fires
Donna’s co-owner Alan Hirsch estimated it will take four to six months to reopen the cafe, and it appeared My Thai and Indigma also suffered heavy damage. Thairish and the Helmand, received only minor water damage and were expected to reopen in the coming days.
In 1904, the Great Baltimore fire destroyed many of the same buildings that were damaged in the recent fire days ago.
Over 15 strip clubs on The Block, damaged by the fire, have been shut down due to the flames.