MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
Firefighters throughout Prince George’s County remained busy on Sunday, April 8, 2012, battling several home and brush fires. The National Weather Service had posted Red Flag Warnings for the weekend. Low humidity levels provided a dry atmosphere in addition to gusty winds and warmer temperatures providing a recipe for easy ignition and rapid extension of outside fires. Sunday’s call volume was slightly higher than normal, especially on a Sunday with many religious and family events occurring, but not overwhelming. Several dozen brush fires were battled and extinguished without much fanfare throughout the County. There were five house fires on Sunday with Red Flag conditions contributing to the ignition and rapid spread to one Bowie home.
Just after midnight Firefighters from the Bladensburg area responded to a house fire in the 5500 block of Emerson Street. Firefighters discovered a fire on the outside of the house and were able to quickly extinguish the fire. Fire loss was estimated at $5,000 and the cause is under investigation.
Just before 5:00 am Firefighters from the Hyattsville area were alerted to a house on fire in the 4100 block of Woodberry Street in University Park. Firefighters arrived at the 2-story single family home to find heavy fire conditions through the upper floors and roof. The house is vacant and Fire Investigators estimated fire loss at $130,000 and have the cause listed as under investigation. No injuries were reported.
Firefighters battled another vacant house fire just before 3:00 pm in the 7200 block of Crain Highway in Upper Marlboro. Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke coming from this vacant single family home and were able to extinguish the fire within 15 minutes of arrival. No injuries were reported in this incident which remains under investigation with an estimated fire loss of $25,000.
Around 3:30 pm firefighters from the Bowie area responded to a house fire in the 13400 block of Idlewild Drive. Fire/EMS units arrived to find an attached garage on fire with extension into the house. Firefighters were able to control this fire within 15 minutes. The cause of the fire is listed as “accidental” with an estimated fire loss of $75,000. A grill was being used outside grilling Easter Sunday dinner when a large cypress tree ignited near the grill. The cypress tree exploded with fire and quickly spread to the house and the garage. Red Flag weather conditions more than likely contributed to the sudden ignition and rapid spread of the fire. The family is displaced and will be residing with others. No injuries were reported.
The final house fire of the day was also located in Bowie. At around 10:30 pm firefighters arrived at a 1 ½ story single family home in the 2300 block of NW Crain Highway with heavy smoke coming from the basement. This incident required about 30 minutes to control. Fire Investigators have labeled the cause of this fire as accidental and attributed to an “unattended candle” in the basement. Fire loss is estimated at $100,000. One firefighter sustained a minor injury while fighting the fire, however, did not go to the hospital.
While everyone should practice good common sense fire safety habits at all times we ask that you pay particular attention when the NWS issues Red Flag Warnings. The civilian, career and volunteer members of the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department ask you to follow these fire safety tips to avoid the possibility of accidentally igniting a fire outside.
• Dispose of smoking materials in an appropriate container and ensure they are completely extinguished. Do not discard these items into any open area as they may start a fire that will spread rapidly. Do not dispose of smoking materials out of your vehicle when traveling.
• Business owners and property managers should have appropriate containers that include water in areas where smoking occurs outside so materials can be disposed of safely.
• Do not burn brush or trash ever without appropriate approval.
• Be extremely careful and pay full-time attention if you will use outside grills or cooking equipment during these times. If you cook outside, ensure you have some type of extinguishing agent nearby (water hose, bucket of sand, fire extinguisher, etc.). Never leave the grille unattended.
• If you have fireplace ashes; you must put them into a sealed metal container placed on a concrete surface away from any structures. If possible - wait to clean your fireplace until this weather event is over.
• Workers using power tools that generate sparks need to mindful that a fire could ignite from those sparks. Wet down brush areas before working.
• Use common sense and practice sound fire safety habits