Wednesday, 31 July 2013 12:08

More than 100 firefighters responded to the former Seagram’s Distillery last Saturday night as fire engulfed a four-story building on the site.
photos by Steve Matrazzo

Three-alarm blaze Saturday night injures one; cause remains under investigation

by Nicole Rodman

One man was injured after fire broke out at the former Seagram’s Distillery on Sollers Point Road on July 27.
    According to Elise Armacost, director of media and communications for Baltimore County Public Safety, police and fire units responded to a call from the Seagram’s plant at 9:35 p.m. last Saturday night.
    Preliminary reports indicate that the call to emergency personnel was placed by a man inside the burning building.
    Units responded to find a four-story building on the Seagram’s property completely ablaze.
    The man was reportedly injured when he jumped from the third floor of the burning building in an attempt to escape the fire.
    The as-yet unidentified man, suffering from burns and other injuries, was transported to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where he is listed in critical condition.
    Armacost told The Eagle that earlier reports that the man had been transported to Shock Trauma were incorrect.
    More than 35 pieces of emergency apparatus and 100 firefighters, including units from Baltimore City, responded to the fire, which eventually reached three-alarms.
    On the scene of the fire Saturday night, Eagle editor Steve Matrazzo reported that glowing embers from the blaze could be seen traveling a significant distance from the fire itself.
    In response, county fire crews hosed down adjacent buildings. The fire did not spread to nearby houses.
    Matrazzo also observed that parts of the burning building’s roof caved in as the fire raged.
    Aside from the victim transported to Bayview, no other civilians or firefighters were reported injured in the blaze.
    According to Armacost, the fire was brought under control at 1:05 a.m. Sunday morning.
    Police officers will increase security checks on the property in the coming days.
    County officials note that the property is structurally unsafe and should not be entered.
    Detectives are still working to determine the cause of the blaze, as well as why the victim was inside the building on the Seagram’s property.
    The former Seagram’s Distillery site was purchased by current owner John Vontran in October 2008.
    Since that time, more than a dozen blazes, most suspected arson fires, have been set on the property.
    In addition to numerous fires, Vontran’s attempts to redevelop the property have been delayed by a number of factors, including environmental cleanup concerns and zoning issues.
    There has also been public opposition to redevelopment plans, including residents speaking out against Vontran’s informally-proposed “swap” of the Seagram’s property for the North Point Government Center site and, more recently, against Vontran’s bid to purchase the Government Center site.
    As of last December, Vontran was still awaiting final approval to raze the buildings at the former Seagram’s site.
    Contacted in the wake of this weekend’s three-alarm blaze, Vontran said he had no immediate comment but would be willing to comment to The Eagle in the near future.