MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
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911 calls were plentiful at Public Safety Communications with callers describing being trapped in their apartment condos and some trying to escape through smoke filled hallways by holding towels against their face. It was around 10:15 pm, Friday, February 28, when firefighters and paramedics were dispatched to 2020 Brooks Drive, District Heights, an 8-story mid-rise building at the Oakcrest Towers Complex.
Fire/EMS units arrived quickly having been informed by dispatchers of the situation they were about to face; heavy smoke on the 5th floor and above with residents trapped. An initial interior update provided by firefighters indicated heavy smoke conditions on the 5th floor. Additional updates included moderate to heavy smoke on upper floor hallways as well.
Some residents continued to evacuate, however, the incident commander ordered residents to “shelter-in-place” allowing firefighters an opportunity to locate the source of the smoke and only evacuate those residents in immediate danger.
A precautionary Second Alarm was sounded bringing in additional resources to the scene. The majority of the units on the 2nd Alarm were not utilized.
The fire and source of the smoke was soon located in the 5th floor hallway. It appears a fire was intentionally set at a door of a unit. The fire was easily contained and extinguished with smoke removal initiated through roof vents and the use of fire department fans.
A firefighter and one resident were treated on the scene for smoke inhalation and transported to a local hospital for treatment. It was anticipated that they would be treated and released.
Fire Investigators have classified the cause of fire as incendiary. Fire loss is estimated at $10,000. There were no displacements.
Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor stated, “If someone thinks they can commit a heinous act of arson in an occupied multi-occupancy building and get away with it in Prince George’s County is wrong. Rest assured that I will not tolerate this type of activity and have authorized our talented and experienced Fire Investigators to do everything they can to thoroughly investigate this incident and arrest the person responsible.”
Anyone with information about this crime of arson that occurred on the 5th floor of 2020 Brooks Drive on Friday evening at about 10:15 pm should contact our Arson Tip Line at 301-77-ARSON (301-772-7766). Tips may be left anonymously.
Photos of Fire/EMS units operating on scene are provided courtesy of Assistant Fire Chief Paul Gomez