One of the Busiest Days in Department History

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department experienced one of the busiest days in the Departments history due to high winds and dry conditions that resulted in hundreds of brush fires and structure fires.  Numerous personnel have been  operating at several "hot spots" overnight and into this morning.  These locations include Chalk Point, Laurel and Piscataway.  The fires are 90% contained and should be near extinguishment today.  It is safe to say that Saturday, February 19, 2011, will be remembered as one of the busiest days in our history.  The Fire/EMS Department recalled off-duty firefighters to report to work; the last time this was done was September 11, 2001.  Fire/EMS Department Public Safety Communications handled 821 calls for service yesterday; a normal day average is about 350 calls.  Firefighters were summoned from throughout the state and the District of Columbia to assist on incidents (a complete list of mutual aid jurisdictions is listed below).  Of all the homes damaged during this wind/fire event, it is estimated that $1 million + in fire loss occurred.  Another estimated $1 million + in fire loss occurred to commercial property.

There were seven "significant" incidents that occurred yesterday:

...6 am - 8400 block of Potomac Avenue in College Park - House Fire & multiple outbuildings/Brush Fire.  Family Helped by Citizens Services Unit.  Event closed out at 9:30 am.

...9:30 am - Chalk Point Road, Baden - 60 Acre Brush Fire.  100 firefighters, 1 Brush Vehicle burned up in this event, 1 firefighter suffered from heat exhaustion, units operated throughout the night.

...10:59 am - 5400 block of Van Dusen Road, Beltsville/Laurel - 300 Acre Brush/Mulch Fire.  100+ firefighters, 90% contained, units operated throughout the overnight, potential for a multiple day event.  Interstate 95 was closed for 4 hours due to smoke and adjacent land areas burning. Two firefighters suffered non-serious injuries during this event.

...11:42 am - 11900 through the 12200 block of Piscataway Road in Clinton - 250 Acre Brush/House Fire, 2 homes, 5 + outbuildings and 5 abandoned farm homes.  One family assisted by Citizen Services Unit.  150 firefighters, 90% contained, units operated overnight and will continue today, potential multiple day event.

...1:06 pm - Queen Anne Road in Bowie- 15 Acre Brush Fire

...1:56 pm - 14700 Baltimore Av, Burlington Coat Factory, Laurel Mall - 2-alarm building fire, extinguished.

...4:18 pm - 5100 block of Decatur Street, Bladensburg - 2 house fires, 2 families displaced, assisted by Citizens Services Unit

There are firefighters operating in Prince George's County from all of our routine Mutual Aide Counties, including all of our contiguous jurisdictions, as well as through assistance coordinated by the County Emergency Operations Center and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, from:

- St Mary's County MD
- Calvert County MD
- Charles County MD
- Anne Arundel County MD
- Montgomery County MD
- Baltimore City MD
- Arlington County VA
- Alexandria City VA
- Fairfax County VA
- Washington DC
- Washington County MD
- Carroll County MD
- Cecil County MD
- Caroline County MD
- Queen  Anne County MD
- Natural Resources

The Emergency Operations Center in Landover Hills, was activated and was staffed with personnel from County Police, Fire/EMS, Central Services, Public Works, Emergency Management, Red Cross, Public Safety Communications, Homeland Security, and the County Executives Office.

There will continue to be smoke and odors from all of these fires for days. Citizens should keep their windows closed, and if they are sensitive to smoke, avoid areas impacted by these events. 

Some roadways may become blocked from time to time as hoselines are stretched across roads.  We did not officially evacuate anyone, nor prohibit them from returning to their homes, however people were not able to physically drive to their homes.  We did close the Ice House in Beltsville/Laurel, due to the hazardous smoke and travel conditions.

Interstate 95 was closed in both directions in Laurel for approximately 4 hours.

College Park House Fire (Jim Davis)

Firefighters operate on a pile of mulch burning on Van Dusen Road, (Mark Brady)

11900 block of Piscataway Road. (Mark Brady)

House at Piscataway and Windbrook damaged from the wind driven brush fire. (Mark Brady)

Firefighters operate on the Van Dusen fire.  Calverton Engine 841 eventually had to abandon this position due to the fire spread.  They had to leave quickly and lost the majority of their hoselines as they were left behind and damaged from the fire.  (Mark Brady)

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