A 65-year-old woman is expected to survive critical injuries suffered in a Sept. 15 fire at St. Luke’s Place, a senior housing community run by Catholic Charities of Baltimore, according to a Sept. 16 news release by the Baltimore County Fire Department.
Three other patients suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the fire at the 2800 block of Lodge Farm Road. Residents from nine apartment units were displaced, according to the release.
Baltimore County Police fire investigators have determined that the fire was accidental.
“The fire began when the victim — the patient who suffered critical injuries — had been smoking on the sofa while using oxygen,” the statement said. “A fire ignited and trailed along the oxygen tubing, burning the patient and igniting the couch where she was sitting.”
Father Gregory Rapisarda, associate pastor of Our Lady of Hope in Dundalk and St. Luke in Edgemere, visited the critically-injured patient at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where he is a chaplain. Later that day, he celebrated a prayer service for residents in the parking lot of St. Luke. About 20 were present.
The fire alarm went off at 10:25 a.m., and the fire was extinguished instantly by the sprinkler system. On the day of the fire, Father Ross Conklin, pastor of Our Lady of Hope and St. Luke, entered the multipurpose room at St. Luke’s Place to celebrate an 11 a.m. Mass when all he could see was water streaming through the ceiling.
After the fire broke out, the entire building was evacuated, representing about 100 people. Residents were sent to St. Luke and Hosanna House, a Catholic Charities facility serving homeless women, to keep them safe and away from the heat on a hot day, according to Shawna Prince, manager of media relations and editorial content at Catholic Charities.
The building for seniors has 25 units. Due to water damage, 26 displaced residents were temporarily sent to a variety of places such as motels, hotels and with family members. Some residents were able to go back to their units the same day, as long as the area was not affected by the fire, Prince said.
“I think everybody did an excellent job of what had to be done,” Father Conklin said. “The fire department got there quickly. Residents cooperated in the evacuation. The management of the facility spent most of the day trying to take care of the residents and contacting families. Red Cross did their job.”
Most of the infrastructure damage was caused by water. Since the incident happened on the fourth floor, the streaming water affected the lower floors the most. Specialists have been working in the building since Sept. 15 to have residents back as soon as possible.
Among the first responders were 29 units from the Baltimore County Fire Department, North Point Edgemere, Wise Avenue Volunteer Fire Company, Middle River Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company and White Marsh Volunteer Fire Company. The Red Cross and Catholic Charities were also present assisting the residents.
An additional collection will be taken this weekend at St. Luke Masses for the benefit of those residents who were displaced.
“We appreciate all the support from the community,” Prince said.
Email Priscila González de Doran at pdoran@CatholicReview.org
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