A Monday morning house fire in Owings left a home destroyed and its sole occupant critically injured.
An off-duty Prince George’s County paramedic and a retired Prince George’s County fire major rescued the woman from the home and started CPR, said Tony DeStefano, a spokesperson for the Dunkirk Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad. First responders began to arrive shortly after receiving a call from the then-trapped victim claiming she was having trouble breathing around 10:30 a.m.
“The quick and prompt response of both individuals not connected with the fire department but who have fire department experience were the impetus for getting her revived and to the hospital,” he added.
The woman was subsequently flown to MedStar Washington Hospital, where is in critical condition, according to a news release from the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal released Monday evening. She was the only person in the home at the time of the fire.
The Deputy State Fire Marshals are investigating the origin and the cause of the blaze.
The two-story, wood-framed single-family home on Lake Shore Drive soon collapsed, the release states. Firefighters from Dunkirk, North Beach, Huntingtown, Prince Frederick and Anne Arundel responded to the scene.
The man who pulled the victim out of the home, retired Prince George’s fire major Thomas Breen, wrote in a statement that he saw heavy smoke and fire coming from the left side and rear corner of the home after investigating the smoke he saw while driving to his nearby home. A bystander told him he believed someone was inside the house.
He listened for sounds of occupants from the front porch, he wrote, and decided to force entry through the front door when he thought he heard scratching coming from inside.
Inside, he soon saw a foot, and exited briefly to get fresh air and saw units from Dunkirk VFDRS arriving.
“I quickly ducked back into the dwelling, grabbed the victim by the ankles and dragged her to the front porch,” Breen wrote.
The off-duty Prince George’s County lieutenant, C.J. Smart, then accompanied the victim and assisted in life-saving efforts.
“The house is obviously a total loss at this point,” DeStefano said, noting that responding units found heavy fire at the rear of the home, from the basement level to the roof.
The fire is estimated to have caused $350,000 worth of “extensive damage” to the structure and loss of personal property inside the home, the news release states.
DeStefano said that because of the amount of heavy smoke and fire that filled the home while the victim was inside, she likely suffered from smoke inhalation. It’s imperative that people have working smoke detectors in their homes, outside of every bedroom and on every floor, he said.
“I want to commend the first arriving crew from Company 5 [Dunkirk] for an outstanding job,” Breen wrote in his statement. “It was a tough entry and attack, and they performed well.”