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1 child dead, 5 presumed dead in Baltimore house fire

BALTIMORE — One child has died and five other children are presumed dead after a fiery house collapse that injured four others who escaped from the home in Northeast Baltimore’s Cedmont neighborhood Thursday morning, the city Fire Department said.

Heavy construction equipment arrived after sunrise to clear debris and aid crews in searching for the children, but Baltimore Fire Department spokesman Chief Roman Clark said the missing are presumed dead.

“This is a recovery effort at this point,” Clark said.

One of the children’s bodies was recovered about 10:30 a.m., Clark said. While the excavator cleared debris, firefighters searched by hand for the others.

A woman and three other children escaped. The woman and two of the children who escaped were taken to a hospital in critical condition, Clark said. The third child who got out was in serious condition, he said. Their names were not released.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings’ office identified the woman as Katie Malone, a special assistant who has worked in the congressman’s Catonsville office for nearly 11 years handling issues such as immigration, postal services, and the military, including Service Academy nominations.

“It’s a very difficult time for our office,” Cummings told reporters at a news conference Thursday morning.

He said he spoke to Malone’s husband at length, and he told Cummings that Malone “is going to be OK.” Three of the nine children survived, the husband told Cummings.

In a statement, he said: “My staff is a family and this unimaginable tragedy is shocking and heartbreaking to us all. I again ask for your prayers.”

Family for Malone could not be reached Thursday morning.

Fire and school officials have not released additional information about the children. City schools CEO Sonja Santelises said officials are waiting for more information on those involved, but will offer support to the family and schools involved.

“I am heartbroken by the devastating reports of last night’s fire, and I pray for the children and family who were trapped in this tragedy,” she said.

The fire had engulfed all three stories of the house on Springwood Avenue when firefighters arrived about 12:30 a.m., Clark said.

The third floor of the home collapsed onto the second floor shortly later, he said. Firefighters, driven back, had to battle the blaze from outside the home, he said.

The cause of the fire is unknown and will be investigated.

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