As many as 20 people, including 2 infants, are displaced after an early morning fire damaged a row of Greenbelt townhouses. At about 1:45 AM, Thursday, April 8, 2010, multiple 911 calls reported a fire in the 7800 block of Jacobs Drive. Firefighters from Greenbelt Fire/EMS Station 835 soon arrived to find heavy fire coming from the rear of the townhouse. The fire involved a row of five, 2-story, with terrace level, townhomes of lightweight construction and non-sprinklered.
Firefighters mounted an aggressive interior attack stretching hoselines into the attached residence in hopes of cutting off the quick moving fire. Additional resources were called to the scene by way of a Fire Task Force and Second Alarm totaling about 70 firefighters and paramedics on board 17 pieces of apparatus working at the scene. The fire continued to grow in intensity extending both horizontally and vertically. Wooden decks attached to the rear of the structures collapsed. Fire Incident Commanders understood the deck collapse to be an indication of a weakening structural integrity and ordered all firefighters to evacuate the structure and take a defensive position on the exterior. Within 10 minutes of ensuring the safety of all personnel a significant collapse occurred in the second townhouse. Firefighters continued to work on extinguishing the fire from the safety of the exterior and had the fire knocked down in about 1 hour.
Fire Investigators estimated $600,000 in fire loss with the majority of the damage being confined to three of the five townhomes. The cause of the fire remains under investigation as Investigators will need to secure the damaged structures and ensure their safety while they sift through the damaged areas in search of the area of origin and cause of the fire. There were no civilian injuries and 1 minor knee injury to a firefighter that did not require any immediate treatment.
The Fire/EMS Department Citizen Services Unit and American Red Cross are assisting displaced residents with temporary shelter and supplies.