Storm Causes Evacuation of County Fair and Injuries

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

Event organizers at the Prince George’s County Fair ordered an evacuation of the fairgrounds as strong storms were approaching the Upper Marlboro area.  At about 4:30 pm, Saturday, September 8, estimated crowds of 400 to 500 patrons were heeding orders to evacuate the infield area of the Equestrian Center and to make their way to the nearby Showplace Arena for shelter.  The crowd started to converge to the one exit closest to the Showplace Arena.  Congestion at the exit of the infield and the entrance to the arena occurred causing some people to panic.  In the rush to exit, some people fell to the ground and sustained injuries as the crowd continued to push through the exit and into the arena.

As the evacuation was still in progress, the storm was now starting to enter the area bringing heavy rains and high winds further complicating the evacuation.  Several volunteer firefighters were at the fair and immediately went to aid the injured.  As they surveyed the crowds looking for anyone injured, the number of people claiming injury grew to about 12 and additional emergency medical resources were summoned to the scene.  Firefighters moved the injured people into an empty hallway and initiated a triage process whereas the injuries were categorized with the most serious being treated and transported first.  A Mass Casualty Incident was declared and several ambulances, paramedics units, Medical Ambulance Bus and incident commanders responded to the scene.  There were about 25 personnel on the scene that had all patients triaged, treated and transported within 20 minutes of the storms arrival.

Of the 12 patrons treated on the scene, 4 required transportation to the hospital by medics.  A young girl experienced an asthma attack and three others sustained bumps/bruises and sprains/strains.  All injuries were non-life threatening and all patients were in good condition.  The remaining 8 patients declined transportation to the hospital.  The County Fair remained closed for the remainder of Saturday.

Two volunteer chiefs from the Upper Marlboro Volunteer Fire Department were on site when the evacuation was ordered and when the storm hit.  During the height of the storm the firefighters received information that some patrons at the far end of the infield were not able to exit and were seeking shelter.  The chiefs drove their command vehicles over to that area and found 9 people that were exposed to the rain and wind.  The nine were put into the two chiefs vehicles and taken over to the Showplace Arena to be checked by medics.

Some equipment at the County Fair sustained minor damage.  One tent was knocked down and some others sustained minor wind damage.  Damages were being repaired and readied for opening tomorrow.  Staff conducted an assessment of the rides and other displays located in the infield area and were deemed OK.  The County Fair organizers stated that the County Fair would be open for business on Sunday.

Emergency equipment line the front driveway of the Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro after a powerful storm caused the evacuation of the County Fair.  12 patrons were treated on the scene with four of them transported to area hospital with non-life threatening illness/injuries. (M.E. Brady)

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