Published October 11, 2012
BALTIMORE – Shade Worrell and her youngest son barely escaped a fire that tore through her east Baltimore home Thursday, killing five people.
The 19-year-old described choking on smoke as she scrambled to a first-floor window with her 2-month-old son. She dropped him out the window and into the hands of a relative before climbing out herself.
"I felt the heat," she said of escaping the fire.
Worrell's two other children were among five who died. Four-year-old Darryl Stewart III and 2-year-old K'niyah Scott were sleeping in another room. The other victims were Worrell's mother and two other children.
Worrell, appearing stunned and speaking softly, gave a brief interview while sitting in a car outside a nearby school where family members met with the mayor.
Fire department spokesman Chief Kevin Cartwright said that when firefighters arrived at the home in the Frankford neighborhood around 2 a.m. there were intense flames coming out of every window and door.
"It looked like an inferno, and it's surprising that anyone survived in this fire," he said.
It took firefighters nearly two hours to bring the blaze under control. One man jumped from a second-floor window to escape, Cartwright said. He was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center for treatment, where he was in stable condition.
Hours later, family members and neighbors stood on a sidewalk near the home, crying and consoling one another. Many held each other in long embraces and some relatives stood speechless, their eyes welling with tears.
Debbie Boyd, whose sister Nancy Worrell was the one adult killed in the fire, said her sister wouldn't have left the burning home with any of the children inside.
"My heart is heavy," Boyd tearfully told reporters while standing outside the blackened brick home. "My heart is hurting."
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake visited with the family on Thursday afternoon and called the fire "a tragedy all around."
Two firefighters were also injured and were in stable condition.
Associated Press writers Karen Mahabir and Jessica Gresko in Washington contributed to this report.