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Friday, March 14, 2014

3rd Incident Within 36 Hours - Smoke Alarm Alerts Occupants of Fire in Home


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

For the third time within 36 hours a Prince George's County family was able to escape their burning home thanks to a working smoke alarm.  While we don't like to see disruption caused by fire - we are encouraged that residents are maintaining working smoke alarms.  Firefighters know that working smoke alarms save lives and we would like to share these stories of survival.

The first incident occurred Wednesday night around 10:30 pm where a Glenn Dale family escaped their home after a smoke alarm emitted a warning about a fire in a second floor bedroom.  High winds fanned the flames to a point the house was well involved with fire upon our arrival.  The house was a total loss. No injuries were reported.

The second occurrence was on Thursday morning around 9:30 am.  Two adult males and a 5-year-old child escaped after a smoke alarm sounded alerting the occupants to a fire on the first floor.  Again, high winds resulted in rapid extension of the flames from the rear of the homes interior through the front.  All 3 occupants sustained minor lacerations in exiting the home.  Imagine what could have happened if they didn’t have those extra few moments.  The house sustained $75,000 in damages.

This morning, Friday, March 14, 2014, firefighters responded to a house fire just before 11:00 am.  Fire/EMS units arrived to find a 2400+ sq. ft. home with heavy fire showing from the front of the house.  The family, having been alerted by a working smoke alarm, had escaped safely prior to the Fire Departments arrival.  A kitchen stove malfunction ignited combustibles and started a fire that spread rapidly through the District Heights home.  Firefighters were able to bring the fire under control very quickly.  Fire loss is estimated at $75,000.  Five adults and a child will be displaced and assisted by the County Citizen Services Unit.  No injuries were reported.

How many other smaller incidents were handled by the occupants after a working smoke alarm activated. And alerted them to a problem in their home??

According to the National Fire Protection Association that 1 out of every 4 homes does not have a working smoke alarm.  Most often a lack of a battery or fresh battery is the cause for not having a working smoke alarm.  Nationwide, within those 25% of homes is where 2/3 of residential fire deaths occur.  Smoke alarms save lives.

The trend of smoke alarms doing what they are designed to do is encouraging for firefighters.  While we don’t like to see homes damaged and occupant’s lives changed by fire, they are alive.  Having a working smoke alarm in your home increases your chances of survival by about 50%.  Keep fresh batteries in your alarms and upgrade to a 10-year smoke alarm before the end of the year when a new Maryland Law will require them.  Test your alarm once-a-month on the first day of every month to ensure it is working.  Plan and practice a home escape with family identifying two ways out of EVERY room and a safe meeting place outside.

If you cannot afford to purchase a new smoke alarm I encourage you to contact our Safety First Smoke Alarm Program.  Call 301-864-SAFE (7233) and a firefighter will soon visit your home and install a new alarm for you, free of charge.

Friday morning fire caused $75,000 in estimated fire loss but everyone was safe and no injuries were reported.
( PGFD Asst. Fire Chief Steve White)

Beltz Drive this morning (CSU Billy McNeel)

Ever wonder what would have been if the family had not maintained a working smoke alarm. Beltz Drive Fire displaced 5 adults and 1 child. (CSU Billy McNeel)

National Weather Service Issues Statement on Dry Conditions and Threat of Wildfires


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

The National Weather Service has issued a statement warning of an "enhanced threat for the spread of wildfires this afternoon."  Low humidity and winds are contributing factors to this NWS statement.  
Please be extra vigilant of practicing good fire safety habits today.  Be mindful that careless discarding of smoking materials could ignite outside fires that could be challenging for firefighters to extinguish.  The use of charcoal grills and power tools that produce "sparks" could also accidentally ignite an outside fire.

While we want everyone to practice fire safe habits all the time it is particularly important today!!!

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON DC
837 AM EDT FRI MAR 14 2014

...ENHANCED THREAT FOR THE SPREAD OF WILDFIRES THIS AFTERNOON...

SOUTHWEST WINDS WILL BE SUSTAINED AROUND 15 MPH WITH FREQUENT
GUSTS AROUND 25 MPH THIS AFTERNOON ACROSS MOST OF
MARYLAND...NORTHERN AND CENTRAL VIRGINIA...AND EASTERN WEST
VIRGINIA. THE RELATIVE HUMIDITY WILL DROP TO BETWEEN 15 AND 25
PERCENT ACROSS MOST LOCATIONS. THE COMBINATION OF GUSTY
WINDS...LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY AND LOW FUEL MOISTURE WILL ENHANCE
THE THREAT FOR THE SPREAD OF WILDFIRES.

OPEN BURNING OF ANY TYPE IS CONSIDERED VERY HAZARDOUS THIS TIME
OF YEAR. ACCIDENTAL ESCAPED DEBRIS BURNS ARE THE NUMBER ONE CAUSE
OF WILDFIRES.