Smoke created a dense fog as firefighters battled a two-alarm fire that engulfed a building containing the Open Space artist studio and gallery and several auto body repair shops at the intersection of 28th St. and Sisson St. in Baltimore on May 1.
“Flames shot up 30 feet in the air,” said William Hamilton, who said he saw the blaze from his home in Hampden and walked down to the scene. “I could smell the smoke from my house. I’ve been down here since it started.”
The fire, began around 6:30 p.m. and roared into the night for more than five hours. Roman L. Clark, spokesperson for the Baltimore City Fire Department, said firefighters brought the blaze under control around 11:53 p.m.
While a number of firefighters armed with hoses sprayed down the building, a Baltimore Gas and Electric crew raced to turn off power to the building in an effort to keep the fire from spreading.
Mikela Farley, a student at the University of Baltimore, walked down to the fire in a panic concerned about whether everyone made it out of the building safely.
“My friends live there,” said Farley. “I hope they are OK. When I wasn’t able to get in contact with them I came down here.”
Open Space, which opened in 2009, is a collective gallery and apartment of artists. The artistic hub provides an outlet housing for both local and international artists. According to the Open Space website, a two-person exhibition featuring the work of Miranda Pfeiffer and Ledelle Moe was scheduled to show on May 3.
“The fire was labor-intensive,” said Clark. “Due to safety, we could not put any firefighters inside the building to contain the fire. We had men spraying from the outside on ladders.”
As the night wore on, people who lived in the neighborhood continued to walk down to the fire. Bystanders took photos with their phones, while staring at the magnitude of the thick smoke billowing out of the building.
A few bystanders said they were unable to move their cars from an auto repair lot before the fire started and were concerned if they were still there.
Clark said all the residents, workers and owners of the building escaped. He said one firefighter suffered from minor injuries and was taken to the fire department infirmary, where he was released the next morning.
“The fire is still under investigation,” said Clark. “Investigators were not even able to get into the building until daylight broke early this morning.”