Press Conference Scheduled for Tomorrow to Bring Attention to String of Fires, Dead Bodies in Sandtown, Matthew Henson

Photo: Fire last night at 1117 Riggs Avenue is the latest of a string of fires in the 5-square block radius in the past 10 days.

Community to raise several questions on Thursday at 5 pm at N. Carrollton & Riggs

(BALTIMORE – May 2, 2018) – A press conference is scheduled for Thursday, May 5, 2018 at the corner of North Carrollton and Riggs Avenues in Sandtown at 5 pm. Sandtown-Winchester United, an ad hoc group formed following the Freddie Gray Unrest in 2015, the Matthew Henson Neighborhood Association, Baltimore City Community Homeless Advocate Christina Flowers and others will convene to raise questions about the recent string of fires in Sandtown and Matthew Henson.

According to Doc Cheatham, President of the Matthew Henson group, “We’ve had two fire deaths this year alone.”

Fires are nothing new to this ever-challenged part of West Baltimore. However, there seems to be an increase, particularly since the milder weather. Historically, vacants are especially prone to fire in the colder months when addicts and homeless people use them for shelter.

Given the warm days over the past weeks, this has raised several questions from residents.

One question is whether these fires, or at least some of them, are being set deliberately.

During the early morning hours on April 22nd, there was a fire in a vacant house at 1131 N. Carrollton Avenue. A little over 24 hours later, there was a fire at 1144, 1146, and 1148 N. Carrollton Avenue. All three houses are vacant. A couple of days later in the evening, there was a fire in the 900 block of North Calhoun, just a few blocks away. Last night, there was a fire at 1117 Riggs Avenue – just off of N. Carrollton. The Riggs Avenue house is vacant.

“We need a better understanding of what’s causing these fires  – whether they are drug-related, murder-related, squatter-related, intentional or simply evidence of an increased need for more protection for the community, “ said Cheatham.

Doni Glover, co-founder of Sandtown-Winchester United, said, “We just want some answers.” A resident at 1142 N. Carrollton, Glover added, “When you are awakened by your neighbors at 3:59 in the morning and told that you must immediately leave because the houses next to you are on fire, it is something you never forget. We want to know why so many fires are happening and why they are happening now.”

At least two dead bodies have been found in vacant houses in this immediate area in the past week.

For more information on this Thursday’s press conference, call 443.858.2684.

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