Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Lanvale Towers fire in Baltimore, MD was caused by an improperly discarded cigarette material inside of the eighth-floor trash chute.


Investigators have revealed a cause of a large two-alarm fire at the Lanvale Towers over Easter weekend.

Investigators have determined that the fire was caused by an improperly discarded cigarette material inside of the eighth-floor trash chute.

While the investigation is considered finished, it could be reopened.

"Fire investigators concluded the investigation in the Lanvale Towers fire; however, if someone were to come forward to say they know who actually threw or discarded the cigarette material in the trash chute, that would be a matter for Baltimore City police to handle, or housing inspectors," Baltimore City Fire Service spokeswoman Blair Adams said.

Some residents of Lanvale Towers will be allowed to return home Monday.

Inspectors condemned Lanvale Towers after an Easter Sunday fire broke out on the eighth floor and spread to the roof, forcing 173 people living in 151 units to seek shelter elsewhere. The city put up 105 of them in hotels all over town.

“It was unfortunate that the residents of Lanvale Towers were without a placeto stay,” Fire Chief Niles R. Ford said in a statement. “Fortunately, no one was injured andeveryone was able to escape safely.”

Baltimore Housing officials said the Fire Department gave the go-ahead Thursday for 36 units to open on Monday.

"It will all take place on Monday sometime between 1 and 2 o'clock. We are working with (Housing and Urban Development) to get reimbursed because all those dollars we spent for the hotel, we will ask HUD to reimburse us for those dollars as well," said Reginald Scriber, deputy commissioner of community services for Baltimore Housing.

The city said it also provided food and transportation to residents living in hotels.

Scriber said city officials hope to have more people returning to Lanvale Towers by the end of June, but the current focus is on getting the first 36 units occupied again.

"We are now working out what locations they were in in the building and whether or not those units that they were in are the ones that they are going to be occupying on Monday," Scriber said.


Lanvale Towers condemned after fire on Easter

More than 170 residents need to find new homes

Kate Amara Reporter


Lanvale Towers was officially condemned on Wednesday since a fire on Easter Sunday.

According to city fire officials, the fire started on the eighth floor and spread through the roof. The cause remains under investigation, but the condition of the building became clear Wednesday.

More than 170 people need to find a new place to live.

"I don't like it. No, I hate it," said Brenda Mitchell, a displaced resident.

Fifty-four displaced residents have been staying at a Red Cross emergency shelter that was set up two blocks away.

"(I'm) worried, concerned and frustrated," said Curtis Jones, a displaced resident.

Many of the displaced residents said they haven't heard anything so far from building management in the three days since the fire.

"Where are we going to be? What time are we going to be there? What are we going to do with our furniture?" said Andre Jackson, a displaced resident.

More than 100 people who lived in the eight-story apartment building packed the Oliver Community Center on Wednesday for a face-to-face meeting with Mayor Catherine Pugh.

"I don't know the condition of the building. I just right now know the condition of the people," Pugh said. "I do know, that sitting in that gymnasium is at least 100 people."

City housing officials said the people who run the private development are responsible.

"There should be no reason why we need to resort to this kind of process. There should be something in place to move people quickly to make sure they are in a safe haven," said Reginald Scriber, with Baltimore City Housing.

City housing leaders laid out a plan to start transferring people to hotels on Wednesday and shut down the shelter by Thursday.

"Our hope is maybe Monday, at the latest, hopefully, we're trying to look for Saturday, but Monday at the latest, everybody will be out of Lanvale Towers," Scriber said. "Let's get them out of here first, and then talk about permanent housing in the next two to three weeks."

"Ain't nothing like your own place, you know?" Mitchell said.

WBAL-TV 11 News reached out to the property management repeatedly by phone and in person, but got no response. However, the management taped notices to the front of the condemned building, showing a schedule of how residents will be issued refunds for their security deposits and part of this month's rent.