MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
A fire broke out on the top floor of a Fort Washington apartment building Sunday morning. At 8:30 am, Sunday, April 23, several 911 calls were received by call takers at Public Safety Communications reporting an apartment fire at 2517 Corning Avenue in Fort Washington at the Glen Rock Landing Apartment Complex.
According to witnesses, prior to the fire department arrival, several building occupants had retreated to their balconies unable to escape through the intense heat and thick smoke consuming the 3-story apartment buildings interior stairwell. Witnesses reported one occupant lowered her infant to bystanders outside and then lowered herself from her second floor balcony.
Some occupants sheltered in place on their balconies and some opted to jump or lower themselves balcony-by-balcony to the ground. One adult female jumped from her top floor window to the ground. Fortunately she had a soft landing in a grassy area. Firefighters, using extended ground ladders, rescued several occupants that had remained on their balconies.
Firefighters arrived within 6 minutes of dispatch and confirmed a top floor apartment on fire with extension into the roof area with several building occupants requiring rescue. A Second Alarm was sounded bringing additional staffing and resources to the scene. All rescues were made, searches complete and fire extinguished within 15 minutes after arrival.
Medics treated and evaluated five people on the scene. Two civilians were transported to an area hospital with non-life threatening injuries/illness, one of those transported was the female occupant that jumped from her window. One of the five treated on the scene was a firefighter that became ill after battling the fire.
It appears that the occupants of the apartment of origin attempted to extinguish the fire themselves using residential fire extinguishers. Several spent fire extinguishers were found outside. The fire rapidly grew in intensity eventually extended out of the windows and balcony doors which is when 911 was first notified by bystanders outside the building.
The apartment buildings pull station alarm bells were never pulled and activated. Building residents were not afforded an opportunity for a warning about the fire and a safe egress.
The American Red Cross will be assisting approximately 30 residents displaced from the 11 apartments in the building of origin.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation with preliminary fire loss estimated at $150,000 to the structure and contents.
The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department reminds citizens and residents:
- Once a fire exceeds the size of a cooking pan or small trashcan it is time to cease attempts to extinguish the fire and exit the house or apartment.
- Call 911 as soon as possible from a safe location.
- If you are in an apartment and your building is equipped with pull station fire alarms; activate the fire alarm on your way out so others may escape in a safe and efficient manner.
- Always know two ways out of every room in your house, condo, apartment, hotel and place of work. Plan and practice escape plans.
- When you retreat to your balcony remember to close the balcony door behind you. This will provide you additional protection from heat and smoke inside from coming out. Wave something and yell to get someone’s attention. If possible, wait for the fire departments arrival to help you down to safety.
- Always have working 10-year smoke alarms wherever you live. Alarms should be installed on every level, primarily just outside of sleeping areas, and in every bedroom. Sleep with your bedroom door closed.
In addition to units from the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department there were firefighters from Naval District Washington, Fairfax and Alexandria that operated on this fire.