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Thursday, February 21, 2013

NBC 4 News - Interview with Injured Firefighter Kevin O'Toole


Firefighter Injured in Unsolved Arson Case Wants Closure

Thursday, Feb 21, 2013  |  Updated 4:26 PM EST
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Firefighter Injured Wants Closure in Arson Case
Prince George's County Fire Department
Firefighter Kevin O'Toole
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Almost a year after an arson fire in Riverdale, Md., police are still investigating and haven't made any arrests in the case.
Seven firefighters were injured while putting out the blaze, but 22-year-old Kevin O'Toole suffered the most severe injuries.
O'Toole underwent several surgeries and spent weeks in intensive care with burns covering more than half of his body.
In an interview with NBC4 via Skype, O'Toole said he's getting progressively more active and has regained the use of his hands, but he's still looking for closure.
"There's somebody out there that caused something like this and almost ended the lives of two young firemen. It could happen again tomorrow, and I just wish that no one ever has to go through this," he said.
O'Toole moved to New York to be closer to his family throughout his recovery. Despite his experience, the volunteer firefighter hopes to return to that line of work after his injuries have healed.



1-Year Anniversary of Riverdale Arson Fire - Remains Under Investigation
                            
MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

The one-year anniversary of an intentionally set fire at a Riverdale home injuring seven firefighters is just days away. The Fire Department is asking for help from members of the community to help us bring this case to a close with fire investigators making arrests. Currently the case remains open and under investigation.

An arson fire occurred in a vacant home at 6404 57th Avenue in Riverdale on Friday, February 24, 2012, just after 9:00 pm. One of the firefighters, Bladensburg Volunteer Sergeant Kevin O’Toole continues to recover from his injuries and has not been able to return to full duty. Fire Investigators have thoroughly looked into all of the evidence and leads and will require additional help from the public to help close this case.

The investigation remains open and on-going in the hopes of identifying the person(s) responsible for setting this fire. We believe that someone has information that could lead investigators to identifying the arsonist. We encourage anyone that has any information about this fire to please call our fire investigators. Even the smallest detail could be important to solving this case. Please call and help us identify who is responsible for injuring seven firefighters and destroying this house.

A reward is available for information leading to an arrest. We are asking for the community‘s involvement and assistance in helping to identify the person(s) responsible for setting this fire. If you have information about this incident, call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). You may also send your tips, SECURELY and ANONYMOUSLY, via TEXT MESSAGE by typing "PGPD" plus your message, and sending it from your cell phone to "CRIMES" (274637). If your information leads the capture of whoever is responsible for this crime, you may be eligible for a CASH REWARD up to $1,000.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has also set up a separate reward. To be eligible for their $5,000 reward you should call 1-888-ATF-FIRE (1-888-283-3473).

The Prince George’s County Arson Tip Line will also accept information at 301-77-ARSON, or email at 77ARSON@co.pg.md.us.

Fatal Glenarden Home Fire Remains Under Investigation

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

We may never know if a working smoke alarm would have made a difference this morning in Glenarden.  When firefighters arrived at the 1-story single family home in the 8600 block of Leslie Avenue shortly after 4:00 am flames and thick smoke were coming out of just about every window and door.  Heroic efforts led to the removal of four unconscious, non-breathing and pulseless occupants.  Two other home occupants self evacuated out of a window prior to the fire department arrival.  After the victims were rescued, CPR was immediately started, hose lines stretched inside and additional fire and EMS resources were summoned to the scene to help tend to the victims and extinguish the fire.  Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor estimated that 75 firefighter/medics were on the scene.  Organized chaos at it's very best.  Six occupants of the home, 4 unconscious and an adult and child females, were transported to area hospitals, the fire was extinguished by 4:30 am and the investigation into the cause and origin commenced.

It wasn't long before firefighters heard that three of the four unconscious victims rescued from the burning home had succumbed at the hospital.  An autopsy will reveal the official cause of death but every firefighter and paramedic already knew that had a working smoke alarm been present that the outcome might be totally different.  No smoke alarm was found within the home.

Deceased is a 36 year old male, an 8 year old female and a 4 year old female.  An 11 year old female had a pulse restored and transferred to Children's Hospital where she remains in grave condition.  A 33 year old and 8 year old, twin sister to one of the deceased, had escaped out of a window and sustained smoke inhalation and a laceration from broken glass.  They remain hospitalized in good condition.

Prince George's County Fire Investigators have been working since early this morning to determine the cause and origin of the fire.  Investigators have been assisted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the County and Glenarden Police Departments.  Nothing unusual with the assistance of Law Enforcement agencies, this is standard procedure whenever there is a fire that involves a death,  The Fire/EMS Department maintains the lead investigative authority in this case.

The names of the deceased are still being withheld as well as the cause of the fire remaining "under investigation" until after an autopsy by the State of Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is completed.  Two Fire/EMS Department members sustained injuries, one from a slip and fall on ice and another with minor burns, both were treated and released from area hospitals.  No new information is anticipated to be released tonight.

The three deaths today bring a total number of fire related fatalities in Prince George's County this calendar year to eight.  There was a total of ten fatalities in all of CY 2012.


Name withheld 36 year old male 2/21/2013 8642 Leslie Avenue
Name withheld 8 year old female 2/21/2013 8642 Leslie Avenue
Name withheld 4 year old female 2/21/2013 8642 Leslie Avenue
White, George Lee 77 year old male 2/8/2013 5900 Rayburn Drive

Jones, Christine Miller 83 year old female 1/24/2013 3518 Everest Drive
Hoffman, Joseph Franklin 65 year old male 1/20/2013 6625 24th Place
Winston, Tanya  53 yr old female 1/13/2013 7602 Fontainbleau Dr 
Abbate, John Michael 45 year old male 1/13/2013 7602 Fontainbleau Drive

Having a working smoke alarm increases the chances of someone surviving a home fire by about 50%. Each home should have at least one working smoke alarm outside of every sleeping area and a working smoke alarm on every level of your home.  The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) conducted a survey and found that in 2005-2009, 94% of all homes had a smoke alarm (working/non-working) and almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.  Smoke alarms save lives.

Citizen and residents in Prince George's County can have a smoke alarm installed in their home, free of charge.  Simply call 311 or our Safety First Program at 301-864-SAFE (7233).  A firefighter will come to your home and install a working smoke alarm for you.  The firefighter will also help you plan a home escape in the event of an emergency including two ways out of every room and a meeting place designated safely outside.



Springdale House Fire - 92nd Avenue - Cause and Origin Update

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

At about 9:30 am, Thursday, February 21, a Maryland National Capitol Park and Planning Police Officer happened upon a working house fire in the 3900 block of 92nd Avenue in Springdale.

Firefighters arrived to find a 1-story single family home, with exposure building on the rear side,  Firefighters found fire showing and heavy smoke coming from the rear of the structure.  Neighbors reported that a disabled occupant could still be in the house and firefighters were in the process of a search of the homes interior when conditions deteriorated rapidly and all personnel were evacuated from the structure.  After a bulk of the fire was knocked down from the exterior, firefighters re-entered the structure to complete their primary search.  The occupant was soon located safe and out side of the home.

Firefighters completed extinguishment in the primary house and the exposure with 45 minutes.

No injuries were reported.  Fire Investigators found that a pile of leaves was accidentally ignited by the homeowner while using a propane torch.  The burning leaves subsequently ignited the home and exposed structure in the rear of the house.  Fire loss is estimated at $100,000.  The structure has been declared "unsafe" with the 2 home occupants being displaced.

These photos were provided courtesy of Brad Bell, WJLA TV 7 News, Prince Georges County Bureau Chief




Glenarden House Fire - Leslie Avenue - Civilian Injuries and Fatalities


Firefighters were alerted to a house fire with occupants trapped at around 4:00 am, Thursday, February 21.

Volunteer Firefighters from Kentland Station 833 were the first to arrive at a brick 1-story with basement single family home in the 8600 block of Leslie Avenue in Glenarden. Conditions on arrival included fire and heavy smoke showing. Kentland and other arriving firefighters initiated a search of the burning home and removed 1 adult male and 3 children: 5, 8 and 10 year old females. 

All four were not breathing and had no pulse. Firefighters started CPR on the victims and all were quickly transported by paramedics to area hospitals. 2 other occupants, an adult female and an 8 year old child, had escaped the fire before the fire departments arrival and sustained less serious injuries and have been transported to area hospitals.

The fire was knocked down within 30 minutes. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.
The adult male and two of the children were pronounced deceased a short time after arriving at the hospital despite the very best efforts of everyone involved. One child had a pulse restored and is in the process of being transported to a hospital that specializes in the care and treatment of children.



Mark Brady
Chief Spokesperson
240-508-7930