Two young brothers were pulled from their smoke and heat filled apartment bedroom by firefighters as a small fire in the kitchen was extinguished. Fire/EMS units were dispatched at 5:12 PM, Friday, July 17, 2009. First arriving firefighters from Riverdale Heights, Riverdale and Bladensburg arrived within four minutes of the dispatch at 5417 56th Place, Oak Ridge Apartments, and found smoke coming from a first floor apartment. This location is a 2-story, red brick, flat roof apartment building. As firefighters ensured the kitchen fire was extinguished another team of firefighters located two young brothers in a back bedroom, both without any pulse or respirations. The boys were removed from the building and CPR was administered by firefighters in the front courtyard. Paramedics arrived and transported the 7-year-old and 5-year-old brothers to a nearby hospital where the youngest child succumbed to his injuries a short time after their arrival. The older brother was stabilized enough that he was transferred to a specialty hospital for children in Washington, DC. He is still in critical and unstable condition. The father, according to witness accounts, had left for a brief period of time and was not in the apartment when the fire started. He sustained smoke inhalation and lacerations when he attempted to enter the apartment to rescue his children prior to the fire departments arrival. He also was taken to the hospital.
A hard-wired smoke alarm was found in the apartment, however, fire investigators could not determine if it was working. The fire originated in the kitchen and caused an estimated $5,000 in fire loss. The fire has been ruled accidental and attributed to unattended cooking. There were no other apartments displaced.
The Fire/EMS Department would like to remind citizens and residents of these fire safety and injury prevention tips:
Citizens and residents are encouraged to contact 911 in the event of an emergency and not complex management – an odor of smoke inside an apartment building would be considered an emergency.
Cooking, primarily, unattended cooking, is the number one cause of fires and fire related injuries in Prince George’s County. When you are cooking and you must leave the kitchen – turn off the stove and oven, otherwise, never leave the kitchen while food is cooking.
Always ensure you have a working smoke alarm. Test your alarm monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year. Citizens can contact our Smoke Alarm Hotline at 301-864-SAFE and have one installed in your home free of charge.
Have your family plan and practice a home escape plan to include two ways out of every room and a designated meeting spot outside.
As is standard procedure whenever a death occurs at a fire incident, the County Police Department Homicide Unit assists Fire Investigators with the investigation.
The combined personnel of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department including volunteer, career and civilian members will return to the Oak Ridge apartment complex on Saturday morning. The crews will be conducting the Departments Post Incident Neighborhood Intervention Program (PINIP) whereas we return to the scene of a tragic incident and go door-to-door providing citizens and residents with fire safety and injury prevention materials. Smoke alarms can be checked by firefighters and if needed a fresh battery or a new alarm will be installed; free of charge. Personnel will also discuss the planning and practicing of home escape plans.
This PINIP will be performed starting at about 10:00 AM, Saturday, July 18, 2009 in the 5400 56th Place in Riverdale.
There is no new information, at this time, about yesterday’s tragic fire. Updated information will be provided as soon as it is available.