Md. Man Finds His Brother's Body After Firefighters Missed It at Burning Warehouse, Homicide Investigation Opens

Though firefighters responded to the scene, James Craig Jr.'s body wasn't found until many hours later

Burned out warehouse is seen, in Baltimore. A man was found dead inside the building Sunday morning, hours after Baltimore firefighters extinguished the blaze Warehouse Fatal fire, Baltimore, United States - 06 Dec 2022
Photo: Lea Skene/AP/Shutterstock

Early Sunday morning, a 45-year-old man died in a fire in the southwest Baltimore warehouse he used for his hauling and demolition business. Though firefighters responded to the scene, James Craig Jr.'s body wasn't found until many hours later, according to his brother Donte.

It was Donte who first discovered his brother's body after going to the site and searching through the charred structure himself. He found Craig's body on the second floor, near the stairwell.

Baltimore Police have now launched a homicide investigation, CBS News reports.

"I don't know how dark it was, but if they would have [peeked] up there, they'd have seen his body," Donte Craig, said to CBS Baltimore. "I would like to know what prevented them from going in there."

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The fire in the 2-story commercial building broke out the Saturday night around 11:30 p.m., according to multiple outlets. Officials reportedly said they had no reason to think anyone was inside the building when they arrived on the scene — but there were 6 dogs outside the structure in a nearby facility, adjacent to the building. The dogs were taken to a shelter after the incident.

Donte said his brother sometimes slept at the warehouse, in a room on the second floor, after working late. "He was trying to get out," Donte said, CBS Baltimore reported.

Craig's family members are now demanding answers about why they believe firefighters failed to try to save him from the blaze. "They've got a lot to answer for," his father, James Craig Sr., said to WTOP. "Why couldn't they walk up one flight of steps? Maybe my son could still be alive." (None of the responding firefighters appear to have been named persons of interest or suspects.)

Firefighters who arrived at the scene reportedly believed the building was vacant and structurally unstable, so they opted to fight the fire from outside instead of entering the unit, per WBAL-TV.

The Baltimore Fire Department has dealt with recent challenges in its line of duty. Three firefighters were killed in a chaotic two-alarm fire in January, and there has been public pushback about the department's apparent confusion regarding how to best handle fires in the city's many vacant buildings. The Baltimore Sun reports that the city's vacant homes burn at twice the rate of those in the rest of the country.

The Baltimore Fire Department could not be immediately reached by PEOPLE.

Craig's case is under investigation.

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