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Friday, November 7, 2014

Capitol Heights House Fire - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Front of Xenia Ave House (Paul Gomez)
At around 8:15 this morning Prince George’s County Firefighters were alerted to a house fire in the 400 block of Xenia Avenue in Capitol Heights.  911 Call Takers received several calls reporting the house fire, which was immediately relayed by Public Safety Communications Dispatchers to responding firefighters.

Upon arrival, firefighters found light smoke coming from the front of house, however, heavy smoke was coming from a 2nd floor window on the rear side.  The home has 2 stories and is 1544 square feet constructed in 1930.

Firefighters initiated an interior attack on the fire and a simultaneous search for anyone still inside.  A fire was located in a top floor bedroom and quickly extinguished.  A closed bedroom door contained the fire to the area of origin and helped prevent the fire from extending into the hallway.  Firefighters searching the homes interior reported negative findings.

The Good

A working smoke alarm alerted the homes occupants of the fire and they escaped the burning home  without injury.   The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department, PGFD Fire/EMS Station 805, had recently installed two 10 – year smoke alarms in that very house.  Previous to that the house did not have any smoke alarms.   The volunteers were recipients of a federal grant in 2013 and purchased enough alarms to ensure every home in their first due response area had at least 1 if not more of the newer 10-year smoke alarms.  This incident validates the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department efforts and demonstrated that working smoke alarms save lives.  The Capitol Heights Volunteers plan to complete their smoke alarm installations this weekend ensuring every home in their response area is protected by working smoke alarms.

The entire Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department has been installing working smoke alarms and fresh batteries to residents for nearly 30 years.  Most recently this past Wednesday firefighters went door-to-door checking on alarms and installing a new 10-year alarms or providing a fresh battery to rejuvenate an alarm.  One thousand 10-year smoke alarms and 5000 batteries were recently donated to us by PEPCO and Energizer Battery respectively.

There were no civilian or firefighter injuries in this incident.  Working smoke alarms also decrease the number and severity of injuries to firefighters thanks to early notification of the incident with arrival before the fire becomes unmanageable in size.

The Bad
Smoke coming from 2nd Floor by Paul Hawkins

Firefighters believe that an electric space heater ignited nearby combustibles causing the fire.

The Ugly

The family of 2 adults and 4 children will be displaced.  The County Citizen Services Unit and the American Red Cross will be assisting the family with temporary arrangements.

The fire caused an estimated $15,000 in fire loss.  The home will not be able to be lived in again until some repairs are made.

Safety First

Remember to install working 10-year smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home, test them monthly as well as prepare and practice a home escape plan identifying two ways out of every room and a safe meeting place outside.

Our temperatures will continue to fall as we enter our colder winter months which, will result in the increased use of space heaters and other appliances designed to keep you warm.   Residents can help to avoid the tragedy this family has incurred by following these simple safety tips.

Electric Space Heaters

• Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL). 

• Check to make sure it has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over. 

• Heaters are not dryers or tables; don't dry clothes or store objects on top of your heater. 

• Space heaters need space; keep combustibles at least three feet away from each heater. 

• Always unplug your electric space heater when not in use. 

 Turn off at night or whenever you sleep.

Additional safety tips on staying warm safely can be found by clicking here.

Any County resident that cannot afford to purchase their own smoke alarm can call 311.  Arrangements will be made for a firefighter to visit your home to install a new 10-year smoke alarm and provide advise on a home escape plan.

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