Two townhouse fires occurring within 30 minutes of each other on Tuesday, December 14, 2010; with similar elements of fire extension remain under investigation.
The first fire occurred at about 7:25 pm at a townhouse in the 51 court of Ridge Road in Greenbelt. Firefighters arrived to find a fire in the rear of the 2-story townhouse. The fire appears to have started on the exterior, rear side, of the townhouse and extended up the wall and into the attic. Firefighters were able to quickly contain and extinguish the fire. No injuries were reported. Fire investigators continue to investigate the cause of the fire and estimate fire loss at $100,000.
At 7:48 pm, firefighters responded to a report of a townhouse fire in the 500 block of Garrett A. Morgan Boulevard in Capitol Heights; just 2 blocks from FEDEX Field. Fire/EMS units arrived to find fire consuming the rear exterior wall of a middle-of-the-row, 3-story, townhouse with fire extending into the attic and eventually through the roof. The fire then extended to townhouses on both sides as a Second Alarm was sounded bringing additional fire/EMS and support units to the scene.
The fire traveled the exterior wall of the structure bypassing the residential sprinkler system and smoke alarms which all the townhouses are equipped with.
The cause of the fire is under investigation and damage is estimated at $400,000. The fire appears to have started in the area of the garage located on the rear side-ground level. Despite extremely hazardous working conditions with cold weather and ice; no injuries were reported.
Occupants of at least 3 townhouses were displaced and assisted by the Department's Citizen Services Unit.
UPDATE - December 15, 2010 - Fire Investigators released their findings this afternoon on the cause of these fires. Each fire has been labeled as "accidental" and attributed to "electrical malfunctions."