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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Two Challenging Home Fires in Cottage City and Fort Washington

Prince George’s County Fire Investigators are still searching for the cause of two house fires that occurred late Wednesday, January 12, 2011. Strong wind gusts and freezing temperatures added to the challenges in battling these fires.

The first fire occurred in Cottage City just after 8:00 pm when firefighters responded to a house on fire in the 4000 block of Lawrence Street. The first arriving unit from Bunker Hill Fire/EMS Station #855 advised of a 2-story single family home with heavy fire showing. Suppression was initiated from the safety of the exterior and once the bulk of the fire was knocked down, firefighters entered the structure to complete a search and extinguishment. Strong wind gusts, it is believed, fanned the fire over to a neighbor’s house via burning embers or radiant heat from the house of origin. Additional firefighters and resources were summoned and both fires were quickly brought under control.

It required forty-four firefighters 30 minutes to knock down the bulk of the fire in both houses. No civilian or firefighter injuries were reported. The Fire/EMS Departments Citizen Services Unit and the American Red Cross were on the scene to offer assistance to a total of 8 displaced residents; 5 from the house of origin and 3 from the neighbors house.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation with fire loss estimated at $100,000.

The second incident occurred at about 11:30 pm in Fort Washington. Firefighters were dispatched to the 7200 block of LaVonda Court for a house on fire. Barking dogs in a neighbor’s back yard alerted the pets’ owner to look outside and check why the dogs were agitated. Upon doing so, she witnessed smoke and fire coming from the neighbor’s roof. She immediately went next door and alerted the occupants that their house was on fire. The 2 adults and 1 child, unaware of the fire, escaped safely while their neighbor called 911.

Firefighters arrived to find a 2-story home with heavy fire consuming the roof area. One firefighter sustained 2nd degree burns to his upper body while battling the fire. He was transported by medics to a Burn Unit where he was held until this morning and released. Wind gusts helped with the rapid spread of the fire and created dangerous conditions for firefighters as they fought the fire. At one point, all firefighters were evacuated from the structure and the remainder of the fire was fought from the safety of the exterior. It required fifty firefighters 90 minutes to extinguish the fire.

The cause of this fire remains under investigation and fire loss is estimated at $150,000. The Fire/EMS Departments Citizen Services Unit provided assistance to the occupants who are staying with other family members.

Firefighters direct their hoselines on the burning house on Lawrence Street in Cottage City. (Roland Berg)

Freezing temperatures and strong wind gusts provided challenges in fighting the fire in Cottage City. (Roland Berg)

Firefighters arrived to find heavy fire coming from the roof of the house in Fort Washington. (Steve White)
The Ladder Truck from Oxon Hill Fire/EMS Station #821 completes the extinguishment on Lavonda Court. (Roland Berg)

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