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BCFD holds moment of silence year after fatal Stricker Street fire

WBAL TV Baltimore logo WBAL TV Baltimore 6 days ago Tommie Clark
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The Baltimore City Fire Department held a moment of silence Tuesday morning to honor three firefighters killed in a firefight a year ago on Stricker Street.

Lt. Paul Butrim, Firefighter Kenny Lacayo and Lt. Kelsey Sadler were killed and Firefighter John McMaster was injured when they became trapped in a vacant rowhouse at 205 Stricker St. that collapsed while they were fighting a fire inside on Jan. 24, 2022.

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At 11 a.m. Tuesday, firehouses across the city embraced a moment of silence to honor their fallen brothers and sister.

"We will never ever forget those three members that lost their lives, and that is why we did what we did today, and we will carry their memories within our hearts forever," Assistant Baltimore Fire Chief Roman Clark said.

"What happened a year ago is the biggest tragedy we've seen, losing three of the bravest among us in the way that we did last year. We have to continue to honor them," Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said.

Since the rowhouse collapsed, a community space has been built in its footprint. On Tuesday, there were memorials left behind for each firefighter.

"You know, I took this very personally one year ago, and I still take it personally now because this shouldn't have happened," Baltimore City Councilwoman Odette Ramos, D-District 14.

Ramos said the city is making slow progress on addressing a vacant home crisis by attempting to take possession of properties.

"For those of us who have been working hard on addressing vacant properties around the city, it's horrifying that we have not done enough," Ramos said.

Community leaders are calling for more action to address the city's vacant home crisis, from Mount Clare, where the tragedy happened, to the many other neighborhoods facing the same issue.

"These people gave their lives to save other people's lives," said Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, president of the Matthew Henson Neighborhood Association. "We've been experiencing three fires a year because of vacants coming in. So, we have been waving the red flag long before now."

Raw video below: BCFD holds moment of silence year after Stricker Street fire

Over the past year, the fire was ruled a homicide in April after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives classified the fire as intentionally set. In October, the ATF completed its investigation into the fire.

Baltimore City State's Attorney Ivan Bates released a statement Tuesday afternoon about the case, saying: "It is clear that the prior administration had ample time and opportunity to review the ATF report on this case which was handed over to them back in the summer of 2022. They also received three briefings on the investigation and the report from the ATF.

"Upon taking office, my administration was alerted that this matter was still pending. We are reviewing all evidence and will gather additional evidence, as necessary, to make an appropriate charging determination based on the facts and the law.

"We are mindful that the families of the fallen firefighters, their colleagues and residents all have lingering questions regarding this tragic event. However, we owe it to these fallen heroes and the residents of Baltimore to make the appropriate considerations based on evidence and sound legal analysis.

"It is an unfortunate and tragic incident that should have been addressed long before now, but we are committed to moving forward on this matter with resolve to accomplish justice in this case."

In the time since, Baltimore Fire Chief Niles Ford resigned in December amid an internal report released that was a scathing review of the department's response to the fire. It details a number of recommendations, many that officials found have been ignored in the past.

And in December, the families of the fallen firefighters filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the mayor and the fire department.

"We're going to continue to work with our partners to make sure any and everything that can be done will be done, and as we know, we're going to be committed to improving the fire department in any way that we can," Scott said.

The mayor said a search continues for Baltimore's next fire chief.

SPECIAL: Tuesday at 7 p.m., WBAL NewsRadio 1090 AM and 101.5 FM will air a one-hour special, "The Stricker Street Fire: One year later," looking at the impact of the fire and the changes that have taken place since.

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