Six children are presumed dead after an early morning house fire tore through their northeast Baltimore home, injuring their mother and three other siblings.
The woman and two of her children were taken to hospital in a critical condition and the office of Rep. Elijah E. Cumming identified the woman as Katie Malone – a special assistant who has worked for him for 11-years.
‘It’s a very difficult time in our office,’ said Cumming to reporters at a news conference on Thursday morning and revealed he had spoken to Malone’s husband at length.
Tragically he confirmed that six of the nine Malone children appeared to have perished in the blaze.
Firefighters found heavy flames coming from all three floors of the home when they answered the call about 12:30am Thursday, and they attacked the blaze from outside, fire department spokesman Chief Roman Clark said.
‘The building was fully engulfed when they arrived on the scene,’ he said by telephone.
William Malone told The Associated Press that he was not home at the time of the fire because he was at work for a restaurant. He said one of the three children taken to the hospital after the blaze has since been released.
‘I’m still in shock to be honest,’ said Malone, who was reached by phone at a relative’s home. He said he does not know what may have caused the fire.
Cummings said Katie Malone has worked as a special assistant in his Catonsville office for nearly 11 years.
‘My staff is a family and this unimaginable tragedy is shocking and heartbreaking to us all. I again ask for your prayers,’ Cummings said in a statement.
Michael Johnson, 55, who lives a block away and can see the house from his home, described it as a complete inferno.
‘Fire was coming out of every window, and as they sprayed it, it seemed like the fire was fighting back or something. It just kept coming and coming and coming. Fire was actually coming out of the sides of the house. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life,’ Johnson said.
Johnson, who didn’t know the family, added that he was praying for the people inside.
‘It was just so intense,’ he said. ‘I didn’t think anyone would be able to survive it at all.’
Johnson said he saw a woman come out of the house screaming.
Cummings said in a statement Thursday that Katie Malone has worked as a special assistant in his Catonsville office for nearly 11 years.
He says she serves constituents in the areas of immigration, postal services, and the military, including service academy nominations.
He says ‘this unimaginable tragedy is shocking and heartbreaking to us all.’
A colleague of Malone’s who is also on Cummings’ staff, Amy Stratton, posted the congressman’s statement on her Facebook page.
‘I am praying with all my heart and soul that everyone is alright!!!’ Stratton wrote.
‘Kate Ward Malone is one the best mother’s I know on this planet!!’
‘Please, please pray for her & her family!!!! We need prayer warriors!’
The victims have not been officially identified by authorities.
Responding firefighters found heavy fire coming from all three floors of the home and they attacked the blaze from outside, fire department spokesman Chief Roman Clark.
WJZ-TV showed two small children sitting up as they were wheeled away on a stretcher and a woman on a stretcher with an oxygen mask over her face.
Images from the scene show firefighters dousing the charred shell of the first two stories of the home between two other large three story single-family homes.
The third floor collapsed and the second floor partially collapsed, Clark said.
The blaze is contained, but hasn’t been brought under control.
The cause is under investigation, but investigators haven’t been able to enter the building.
Crews were awaiting the arrival of heavy-duty equipment that would help them remove debris from the dwelling, he said.
SOURCE: ASSOCIATED PRESS
ARIEL ZILBER, DAILYMAIL.COM