- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2005

BALTIMORE (AP) — Fire engulfed a huge foam-storage warehouse in Northwest Baltimore yesterday afternoon, sending plumes of smoke 500 feet into the air, though officials reported no injuries.

The warehouse, owned by Life-Like Products, sits on four square blocks in a residential section of the city near the Baltimore Zoo and Druid Hill Park. Fire officials said it was used to store plastic foam products.

Firefighters arriving at about 12:30 p.m. found flames shooting 100 feet from the massive, two-story structure. About 200 firefighters and staff battled the five-alarm fire.

Fire department spokesman Kevin Cartwright said it was too early to determine a cause.

Maurice Brown, 19, was working on the loading dock when he saw flames coming out of a storage room and ran to warn three others who worked there. By the time the workers had moved their cars to safety, flames were shooting out the top of the building, an ornate brick structure with some of its windows boarded.

The fire “was so big, it was like a heat wave, even 50 feet away,” Mr. Brown said. “It was terrible.”

Patrick Johnson, 13, who lives across the street, saw the smoke and fire from a bus as he came home from school. “I thought it was my house,” he said, watching from his front stoop as firefighters sprayed the warehouse. “I ain’t seen nothing like this before, not even on TV.”

Life-Like Products got its start 50 years ago as a manufacturer of foam tunnels and grass mats for model railroad hobbyists, according to its corporate Web site. Its headquarters are close to the warehouse.

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