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Monday, January 24, 2011

Water Main Break Prompts Swift Water Rescue Team Response

On Monday, January 24, 2011, at approximately 4:00 am, Prince George’s County Public Safety Communication dispatched the Fire/EMS Department to a 911 report of a personal injury accident with possible entrapment on the Inner Loop of the Beltway (Route 495/95) just south of the Central Avenue (Route 214) interchange. Fire/EMS units arrived on the scene to encounter two separate accidents (a single car up the embankment and two vehicles with minor damage) with the entire area covered by moving water. The Fire/EMS Department's Swift Water Team was summoned to assist a citizen that was safe but stranded on an embankment. A 54” water main break on adjacent commercial property allowed several thousand gallons of water to flow onto the Inner Loop. This water was described as being about 2-feet deep and moving swiftly. This caused icing of the roadway and swift water rescue challenges. The Inner Loop was completely shut down to ensure safety of the travelers, and first responders while the Swift Water Team prepared for citizen rescue. The Swift Water Team did not deploy as the stranded citizen was accessed by way of dry land from commercial property near his location. He was assisted up the embankment by firefighters to safety. After further assessment of the scene and evaluation of the patients; no injuries were found and all citizens refused transport to the hospital.  The Maryland State Police, State Highway Administration and WSSC were soon to arrive to manage the incident. Firefighter/Medics were clear of the Beltway by 5:00 am.


As a result of the 54” Water Main Break, areas of the County are experiencing water shortages from Capitol Heights to Oxon Hill. WSSC indicates this water shortage could last several hours. As a precaution, Fire/EMS Department officials re-deployed several large capacity water tankers. These Fire/EMS Department Tankers can carry up to 2500 gallons of water and were strategically moved throughout the areas plagued by low water pressure. As an added precaution, any assignment dispatched for a structure fire would receive an additional 2 engines which carry about of 500 gallons of water on-board.

Oxon Hill House Fire with Civilian Fatality - Update (2)

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E.Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930, mebrady@co.pg.md.us

Prince George’s County Firefighters fought a fierce fire in an Oxon Hill home this morning that claimed the life of one of the occupants. At about 8:20 am, Monday, January 24, 2011, Firefighters and Paramedics were alerted by a 911 call from a neighbor stating the house next door was on fire in the 300 block of Corla Drive. Additional 911 callers indicated that a person was still inside the burning home. Dispatchers relayed information about the trapped occupant to responding firefighters and immediately dispatched paramedics to the scene as well.


The first arriving engine from Oxon Hill Fire/EMS Station #821 advised they were on the scene of a 2-story, split foyer, single family home with heavy fire showing. An aggressive interior attack and search of the house was immediately initiated. It took 34 firefighters about 20 minutes to knock down the fire and conduct a primary search of the home. The primary search yielded negative results.

A thorough secondary search was conducted whereas a deceased adult male was located in the basement. An adult female, 30ish years-of-age, was able to escape the burning home by jumping from a top floor window. She sustained injuries to her leg and possible smoke inhalation and transported by paramedics to a medical facility.

Prince George’s County Fire Investigators are conducting an investigation into the cause and origin of the fire. Fire Investigators were joined by County Police Homicide as a matter of standard operating procedure. The cause of the fire remains under investigation and fire loss is estimated at $250,000. It is believed that the deceased is the home occupant, a 60ish year-old-male; however, an autopsy will be required to confirm the identity of the deceased.

As a result of a 54” water main break earlier this morning Fire/EMS Officials had directed the transfer of several large capacity water tankers into affected areas with low water pressure; Oxon Hill is one of those areas. As a result, 6 engines companies, compared to 4 normally, and 3 water tankers, were dispatched to this incident. While initial arriving firefighters advised of low water pressure from the hydrants, there was more than adequate water supply on the scene to handle this fire. The low water pressure from the hydrants had no impact on this incident.

Firefighters will return to the Oxon Hill community tomorrow going door-to-door providing fire safety and injury prevention material as well as checking on home smoke alarms. It is not yet known if smoke alarms played any role in this incident. Any citizen that is in need of a working smoke alarm is encouraged to contact our safety first smoke alarm line at 301-864-SAFE (7233). “Safety First – Ensure Everyone Goes Home.”

Conditions on arrival as photographed by a neighbor.  Photo obtained through WUSA TV 9 website.

Heavy fire was coming through the front door of this 2-story home upon fireifghters arrival (BRADY)