A family of six remains homeless three weeks after flames raced through their West Baltimore row house, a blaze that fire officials said started in a neighboring city-owned vacant house.
The fire began early Nov. 13 in the rear of 2812 Boarman Ave., the city-owned property. The flames quickly swept through the walls of the unoccupied house, burning their way through the foundation into the house next door and consuming the home and possessions of Marvin and Ann-Marie Jones and their four children.
“We lost everything. We have nothing. Everything is gone,” Jones said.
Ann-Marie Jones told the AFRO she just sent her children to school when she noticed the fire. Her husband was across the street working.
Jones said she summoned her husband, shouting “Marvin, Marvin, there is a fire outside!” but flames were already leaping from the rear of their house. There were no injuries, as the family was able to get out safely with only the clothes on their backs.
The house was the Jones’ first home. They moved to the West Baltimore neighborhood in March 2011. Marvin Jones said he paid $11,000 for the house and invested an additional $35,000 in repairs and upgrades.
But he had no insurance on the structure; fire officials estimated damages at $109,273.
“We are homeless,” he said, adding that the city has done little to help. “All they gave me was two dumpsters to throw all of our belongings in.”
“I don’t have any clothes, I don’t have nothing,” he said.
He said teachers at their children’ school donated clothing and shoes, once they learned of their loss.
“Some people from my mother’s church gave us some things, my kids are staying at my mother’s house,” he said.
The city of Baltimore provided a seven-night stay at a Comfort Inn, extending a two-night stay paid for by the Red Cross’ emergency services.
Reggie U. Scriber, deputy commissioner for Baltimore Housing, said in addition to providing estimators to help determine the extent of the damage and two roll-off dumpsters to dispose of the debris, the city is trying to steer Jones to a rehabilitation loan for what’s left of the structure.
A Baltimore Housing spokesperson said once Jones’ application clears the approval process and the city can set up an escrow account for his rehabilitation funds, insurance companies can be approached to provide protection against another catastrophe.
“I didn’t want to see him and his family go through these changes,” said Scriber.