A Greenbelt apartment fire injured 8 civilians, including several children, and a firefighter with numerous rescues of trapped residents. At about 8:45 AM, Saturday, October 17, 2009, fire/EMS units from the Greenbelt area were alerted to an apartment fire at 5925 Cherrywood Terrace in the Empirian Village apartment complex (formerly known as the Spring Hill Lake apartment complex). The ladder truck from Berwyn Heights Fire/EMS Station 814 was the first to arrive to find heavy smoke and fire on the second and third floors of this 3-story garden style apartment building and obvious rescues of residents being required. The intense heat and blinding smoke prevented building occupants from escaping through the enclosed stairwell and were forced to retreat to their balconies. Firefighters from Berwyn Heights effected the rescue of six occupants from their balconies using ground ladders. First arriving units also encountered several injured civilians that had jumped from their balconies prior to the Fire Departments arrival. A second-alarm was sounded bringing additional fire/EMS resources to the scene to deal with the fire that had extended into the roof structure and was starting to extend to an attached building. While firefighters were initiating an attack on the fire and searching the building, for other occupants, paramedics were dealing with several injured residents with burns and injuries. A third alarm was sounded bringing about 100 firefighter/EMT’s and paramedics to the scene on board 30 pieces of fire apparatus, ambulances and paramedics and command officers. The fire was brought under control in about 45 minutes and declared completely extinguished 1 ½ hours after arrival. Paramedics transported a total of 9 patients to the hospital. • An adult male and female, both in their 20’s, sustained burns to their upper body including their respiratory tract. They were transported to the Burn Unit in serious condition. • A family of six jumped from their 3rd floor balcony. An adult male and female were uninjured, however, four children, ranging in age from 3 up to 14 complained of injuries and were transported to a local hospital for evaluation and treatment. • About an hour after the firefighters arrived at the fire, a 911 call was received from a nearby apartment building. An adult female and her young son had escaped the fire from jumping from their balcony and then went to a friend’s apartment. They started to feel pain in their lower body and called 911. The young male was transported to a Children’s Trauma Center and the adult female, 20ish years of age, was transported to a neighboring hospital. • A firefighter sustained burns to his ears. The adult male was transported to the Burn unit and is expected to be treated and released today. The Fire/EMS Departments Citizens Services Unit, the Departments Ladies Auxiliary and the Red Cross worked with apartment complex management to provide temporary relief and refreshments in a community room not far from the fire scene. A total of 28 apartment units from two buildings will be uninhabitable. Within these 28 apartments are 168 residents which include 112 adults and 56 children. There will be 14 apartments in 5925 Cherrywood Terrace, building of fire origin, with long term displacement. Those displaced will be placed into vacant apartment units within the apartment complex. The residents of the 14 apartments units in 5923 Cherrywood Terrace will suffer short-term displacement and are being placed in a hotel by the apartment complex management and Red Cross. Management is hopeful to return these residents back into their apartments within the next few days. The fire appears to have originated in a 2nd floor bedroom on the rear side of the building. The cause of the fire has been ruled accidental and attributed to an electrical malfunction. Fire loss is estimated at $750,000. EARLY VIDEO OF FIRE, REAR OF BUILDING, from neighbor posted on Youtube.com
Video of the front of the building.