Fires that started when Pride decorations were set aflame have sent three people to the hospital in Baltimore, and two are in critical condition.
The fires damaged four homes on East 31st Street in the city’s Abell neighborhood, Baltimore TV station WJZ reports.
There were two separate incidents, Baltimore Fire Department officials said. One started when a Pride flag at one home was set on fire, and then someone set fire to a house down the street that was decorated for Pride.
At the latter house, three people were injured and taken to a hospital. A 30-year-old woman and 57-year-old man are listed in critical condition, and a 74-year-old man is in serious condition, Fire Chief Niles Ford told reporters, praising the firefighters’ quick response.
Of the four homes affected by the fires, two sustained serious harm, with one “almost completely charred,” WJZ reports.
Police are investigating the fires as a case of “malicious burning” and have not determined a motive, according to the station. There were initial reports that police were investigating the matter as a hate crime, but Police Commissioner Michael Harrison urged the media to hold off on any such assumptions.
“This is an ongoing investigation to determine facts, to determine the cause, and right now we’re not prepared or equipped to determine cause or the facts of how it started,” he said at a news briefing.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting the local police and firefighters in the investigation. Mayor Brandon Scott called on residents of the area to share any information, such as security video, that might help in the probe.
“We’re going to allow [investigators] time to do their work, as they always do in these instances, to make sure that we figure out what actually happened here so that we can move and accountability fashion at the best way possible,” Scott said.