Media Contact: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
The Spellman House Apartment building at 4711 Berwyn House Road is a 7-story assisted living center designed for senior citizen occupancy. The pair of police officers immediately notified their dispatcher while they made their way to the building and up to the 6th floor. The hallway was starting to fill with smoke as the officers banged on the door trying to alert anybody that might have been inside. Fearing the worst the officers forced their way into the apartment and without hesitation or protective equipment performed a search of the apartment that was filled with smoke and heat. Fortunately no one was inside and the officers made their way back downstairs assisting residents along the way.
Firefighters arrived and advanced hose lines into the apartment of origin. The sprinkler system had already activated and held the spread of the fire and firefighters extinguished the remaining hot spots.
Residents were advised to shelter in place, however, about 50 residents evacuated and were sheltered in the lobby and community room until the all clear was given to return to their apartments at about 3:15.
No injuries occurred. One police officer was evaluated by paramedics for exposure to smoke but did not go to the hospital.
The occupants of three apartments will be displaced. The apartment of origin and the two below on the 4th and 5th floors will be displaced mainly due to water damage. Management and the County Citizen Services Unit will assist those displaced with temporary shelter.
The fire appears to have started accidentally and possibly caused by an unattended candle. Fire Inspectors are also looking into the failure of the alarm system to sound an audible alarm. The only warning provided to residents was a visual blinking alarm.
There were 40 firefighters and paramedics operating on the scene on-board 12 Fire/EMS units. Fire loss estimates are still being tabulated.