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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fort Washington Apartment Fire

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

Just after 8:30 am, Tuesday, October 5, 2010, a 911 call was received reporting a fire in a Fort Washington apartment building. Fire/EMS units were dispatched to 2440 Corning Avenue, a 3-story in the front and 4-story in the rear, garden-style apartment building in the Rosecroft Mews Apartment Complex. Engine 821 - Oxon Hill was the first to arrive and advised of heavy fire conditions on the top floor. The fire started in a top floor balcony HVAC closet and extended up into the attic area first. The fire then extended into the top floor apartments after the attic area was already consumed. The fire then started to extend horizontally throughout the remaining roof area.

The crew from Engine 821 and other arriving firefighters initiated an aggressive interior attack on the fire and were successful in cutting off the extension and containing the bulk of the fire to the two top floor apartments.

A Second Alarm was sounded bringing a total of 60 firefighters and medics to the scene. The fire was contained and extinguished within 45 minutes. No injuries were reported and 2 family pets, both dogs, were removed and provided to their owners.

Fire Investigators believe a malfunctioning furnace in a balcony HVAC closet on the top floor is responsible for igniting the fire. Fire loss is estimated at $250,000. Apartment complex management will be assisting the approximately 35 displaced residents with vacant apartments located within the complex.

With chilly mornings occurring over the last 2 days, many residents are starting to use their furnaces, space heaters and other alternative means to keeping warm. The Fire/EMS Department highly recommends that homeowners visually inspect their furnaces and remove any combustible materials that are within 3 feet. Also, a certified technician should inspect furnaces every year, before the cold weather arrives, to ensure it is proper working order. Property managers are also reminded to inspect and clean furnaces every year. Remember a 3 foot perimeter should be provided to any heating device.

Rear side of building upon arrival. (photo by Fire Lt.Rick Patterson)

Front side of building during initial operations (photo by Fire Lt. Rick Patterson)

First arriving firefighters stand-down as crews continue with overhaul.

Incident Commander Battalion Chief Ken McSwain receives update from Fire Investigator Brian Collins.

Top Floor Balcony HVAC utility closet is where the fire started.

Fire Lt. Tony Hughes comforts 4-year-old Charli while mom went to assist in retrieving a family pet.

Ehlehna Gipson leads her pet dog"Turtle" out of the fire damaged apartment building.

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