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5-alarm fire roars in Baltimore’s adult district

A five-alarm fire broke out Monday afternoon in a building in Baltimore’s adult-entertainment district, spreading quickly, sending thick smoke throughout downtown and snarling traffic.

Fire spokesman Battalion Chief Kevin Cartwright said the blaze started about 4 p.m. in a three-story building then spread to five or six others. Two buildings were evacuated, he said, including one that houses fire department offices.

The area is known as The Block.

A strong wind added to the intensity of the fire, he said.

Cartwright said no injuries were reported. He said about 6 p.m. that firefighters were extinguishing hot spots.

Grayish smoke had billowed out of at least one of the buildings, blanketing downtown and firefighters on ladders and cranes poured water on the flames.

Cartwright said the cause of the fire was under investigation. There was no damage estimate.

The Block is a neighborhood of strip clubs with gaudy lights, including Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club. Some of the venues are historic theaters.

Joanna Trela, 38, an office manager for a law firm, works on the 27th floor of a building overlooking the fire scene. She said she looked out the window and spotted the fire after an attorney in her firm suggested that something was wrong with the ventilation system.

“We smelled it,” Trela said.

The fire had her temporarily stranded.

“The most frustrating part is, they shut down the parking garage, so nobody in our building can leave, so we’re all kind of hanging out,” Trela said.

Alex LeBlanc, a management consultant who works a few blocks away, was pulling into a parking garage when he saw the thick cloud of smoke.

“I haven’t seen smoke like that before. From three blocks away, it was just black,” LeBlanc said.

Grayish smoke had billowed out of at least one of the buildings, blanketing downtown and firefighters on ladders and cranes poured water on the flames.

Cartwright said the cause of the fire was under investigation. There was no damage estimate.

The Block is a neighborhood of strip clubs with gaudy lights, including Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club. Some of the venues are historic theaters.

Joanna Trela, 38, an office manager for a law firm, works on the 27th floor of a building overlooking the fire scene. She said she looked out the window and spotted the fire after an attorney in her firm suggested that something was wrong with the ventilation system.

“We smelled it,” Trela said.

The fire had her temporarily stranded.

“The most frustrating part is, they shut down the parking garage, so nobody in our building can leave, so we’re all kind of hanging out,” Trela said.

Alex LeBlanc, a management consultant who works a few blocks away, was pulling into a parking garage when he saw the thick cloud of smoke.

“I haven’t seen smoke like that before. From three blocks away, it was just black,” LeBlanc said.

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