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Reward up to $100,000 offered for tips in Baltimore blaze that killed three firefighters

A Baltimore firefighter holds balloons given to him by a neighbor as a group of fire officials sit on a stoop across the street where three firefighters died in a building collapse. (Julio Cortez/AP)
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Federal, state and local agencies in the Baltimore area are offering rewards of up to $100,000 for information leading to a person authorities say may know about the fire in a vacant building that led to the deaths of three Baltimore firefighters on Monday.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division announced Friday it is offering a $10,000 reward. Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski also announced they would each match the ATF’s offer, as did unions representing Baltimore firefighters and fire officers.

“The brave men and women of the Baltimore City Fire Department are always ready to respond when the people of Baltimore need them. Now it is our time to be there when they need us,” ATF Baltimore Acting Special Agent in Charge L.C. Cheeks Jr. said in a news release.

Three firefighters die in Baltimore

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) doubled the pledged total to $100,000 on Saturday, saying in a statement, “As we continue to mourn our fallen heroes, we are conducting an aggressive investigation into the cause of the fire that took their lives ... We urge anyone with tips or information regarding the person of interest to contact federal or state authorities."

As the investigation into the cause of the fire is underway, authorities obtained surveillance photos of a “person of interest” near the scene of the fire the night before, who could have information “crucial to the investigation,” the ATF said.

Near sunrise Monday, Baltimore firefighters responded to the 200 block of South Stricker Street for a two-alarm fire at a vacant building. The three-story building partially collapsed, trapping six firefighters, the ATF said.

Two of them were removed with minor injuries, the ATF said. Another, EMT/firefighter John McMaster, was taken to the hospital in critical condition and released from Maryland Shock Trauma Center on Thursday. Lt. Paul Butrim, Lt. Kelsey Sadler and EMT/firefighter Kenny Lacayo died.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 10 a.m. at the Baltimore Convention Center, the department said.

Multiple state agencies have partnered with ATF Baltimore Field Division, Baltimore Fire Department, Baltimore Police Department and Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal in the fire investigation, the ATF said, including Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, Howard County Fire and Rescue Service, Anne Arundel County Fire Department, Annapolis Fire Department and Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department.

Investigators are seeking the public’s help in sending any photos and videos of the fire, the ATF said.

Those with information that could identify the person who may have information or have any information about the fire are asked to contact ATF at 888-283-8477 or email ATFtips@atf.gov.

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