Firefighters from the Upper Marlboro area responded to a house fire late last night which involved two civilian fatalities. Just before midnight, July 4, 2009, Firefighters and Paramedics were alerted to a house fire in the 12300 block of Wheeling Avenue in the sub-division of Marlton. The first arriving engine from the Croom Fire/EMS Station advised they had a 1 ½ story single family home with heavy fire showing. Due to the extremely hazardous and untenable conditions an interior attack and search of the home was not possible and firefighters took a defensive position on the exterior of the structure to begin knocking down the fire. After a portion of the fire was knocked down firefighters entered the structure to search for occupants that were reported to be inside. Firefighters were not able to complete a total search and were forced to retreat from the house just prior to a portion of the roof collapsing into the structure.
It required 35 firefighters about 45 minutes to extinguish the bulk of the fire. A secondary search of the structure that was accessible to firefighters resulted in the discovery of two civilian fatalities. The age and sex of the individuals and their identities are not available and will not be so until after an autopsy has been conducted.
As a matter of standard procedure, whenever a death occurs at a fire incident, the Prince George’s County Police Department joins Fire Investigators in the investigation which remains open and on-going. Fire loss is estimated at $300,000. There were no other injuries to civilians or firefighters reported.
Two Die in Blaze That Drove Firefighters From House
By Matt ZapotoskyWashington Post Staff Writer Monday, July 6, 2009
Two people were killed late Saturday in a Prince George's County house fire so intense that it sent firefighters scrambling out of the 1 1/2-story building minutes before its roof collapsed, authorities said.
Fire authorities did not identify the two people, saying their bodies were being sent to the medical examiner for autopsies. A police spokesman said the two were believed to be adult men.
Firefighters were called to the 12300 block of Wheeling Avenue in Marlton just before midnight Saturday, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George's Fire and EMS Department. When they arrived, the fire was so intense, especially on the first floor, that "it was impossible to go inside," Brady said. He said neighbors reported that people might be trapped in the house.
Crews eventually subdued the blaze enough to do a cursory search, but they were driven from the home just before the roof collapsed, Brady said. When they got the flames under control about 45 minutes later, they found the two bodies -- one on the first floor and one in the basement, he said.
The body on the first floor was burned beyond recognition, Brady said. He said investigators were trying to determine what caused the fire and what killed the victims.
Officer Evan Baxter, a Prince George's police spokesman, said homicide investigators are assisting fire authorities but are taking a secondary role unless evidence emerges indicating that the men were slain.
Latrice Johnson, 25, who lives nearby, said she was standing outside her home Saturday night when she spotted flames that appeared to be coming from her neighbor's back yard. Other residents started banging on the neighbor's door, she said, but no one came out. Within what seemed like seconds, she said, the fire had consumed the whole house. Another neighbor moved a black Mustang in the driveway, and Johnson called 911, she said.
"It was on the trees in the back yard. It was just going crazy," Johnson said. "To actually see it, I was devastated. I'm watching someone lose their house and not knowing if someone's in the house."
The fire caused an estimated $300,000 in damage, Brady said.