Three buildings have been consumed so far. A friend of mine, Robbie, is currently filming and taking pictures of the conflagration. There were establishments that I frequented on that block, and in that neighbourhood, that will either be completely destroyed or severely damaged by smoke or water.
I am very upset. This was my home.
UPDATE: Two firefighters have been taken from the scene so far, most likely injured.
UPDATE: A significant portion of southern Mt. Vernon has been blocked off, to include Charles Street, from Monument St. to Read, as well as streets between Cathedral and St. Paul. The streets are clear of residents, and dozens of firefighters are attempting to control the blaze. My source, Robbie, says that the fire appears still be raging and will be until dawn.
UPDATE: Video. The person speaking is Robert Lynch, my friend and former coworker, who owns the local business Mount Vernon Wireless.
UPDATE: Robbie says that, while there were spectators earlier in the fire, they have since been pushed back and can no longer get close enough to see the destruction. He describes the scene as eerie-- and the firefighters as fatigued. While no more injuries appear to have occurred, a triage station has been set up in order to give these guys water. More trucks have arrived in order to relieve crews. The fire has been going for four hours now, and doesn't appear to be stopping.
UPDATE: Robbie has corrected himself-- it is not a 5 alarm fire, it has been confirmed a 4 alarm fire.
UPDATE: Another video. You can see that the fire doesn't appear to have abated much, and Robbie just told me (it is now 5am in Baltimore) that it has erupted again. His apartment reeks of smoke while his windows are covered in a mixture of water and ash. Smoke has filled the area, and he reports that there are approximately 20 emergency vehicles on the scene.
UPDATE: The news has confirmed that the addresses 800, 802, and 804 are on fire. It has been upgraded to five alarm. There are 40 fire trucks and command vehicles at the site, with 185 firefighters, a number expected to rise.
Robbie mentions that as a local business owner, he knows many of the people that are going to be affected by the blaze. I myself have fond memories of taking a young Iraqi boy to The Helmand, a restaurant on that block. Neither of us look forward to hearing about the impact this will have on people we know.
UPDATE: The Baltimore Sun has finally put up a blog post, an hour and a half after my initial post. The Sun reports that fire commanders are calling for salt to be laid down on the scene, as the freezing temperatures are creating ice slicks on the street.
UPDATE: Another video. Robbie thoughtfully includes the news broadcast (sorry for the poor quality), as I am trapped WAY THE FUCK OUT in rural Oregon with a poor internet connection and can't really watch the news.
Humorous side note (you knew there had to be one): Is that bitch reporter REALLY exposing cleavage? Don't hos in Bmore know that now is no time for boobies?
UPDATE: I'm tired and, with no change in sight, am going to bed. When I get up, Robbie plans on having photos and video of the aftermath.
Whatever course this morning takes, many people's lives-- and businesses-- in the Mount Vernon area have been significantly altered, and in some cases, ruined. The owners of Donna's and My Thai (it is currently 6:35 AM EST at the time of this writing) are on the scene: My Thai's proprietor has been frantic since 1:30 AM EST, while the owner of Donna's only found out a half hour ago-- and is on the corner, weeping. My cynical, cranky, agnostic prayers go out to those affected. I know my readers feel for them too.