Firefighters battled an apartment building fire this morning as intense thunder storms rolled through the area. Firefighters and Paramedics from the District Heights area were alerted to a possible fire on the top floor of a garden style apartment building just before 5:00 AM, Saturday, August 22, 2009. Firefighters arrived in about 3 minutes at 1956 Rochell Avenue and encountered a 2-story/front side and 3-story/rear side apartment building with heavy smoke coming from the roof.
Firefighters commenced operations with advancing hoselines for an interior attack on the fire and ensured all civilians were evacuated from the building. Heavy fire conditions were soon located in the attic/cockloft and Incident Commanders requested additional fire/EMS resources. A Second Alarm was sounded bringing a total of about 50 firefighters, medics, command officers and support staff on-board about twenty pieces of apparatus and vehicles to the scene.
It required about 45 minutes to declare the fire under control. A firefighter sustained an injury to his shoulder and was transported to a local hospital for treatment. There were no civilian injuries, however, several families will be displaced and are being assisted by the Fire/EMS Departments Citizens Services Unit, Red Cross and apartment complex management in providing temporary shelter. Twenty-three residents from 7 families are being placed at the Howard Johnsons in Cheverly by the Red Cross.
Fire Investigators believe that a lightening strike ignited the fire which resulted in an estimated $500,000 in fire loss.