Two-alarm Olney fire destroys townhouse, displaces 20 neighbors

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Olney FireA two-alarm fire at an Olney townhouse displaced 20 people from their neighboring homes Friday night. PHOTO BY GLYNIS KAZANJIAN  A two-alarm fire in Olney Friday night obliterated an entire townhouse, caused approximately $1.4 million in damages and displaced 20 people from neighboring homes, fire officials reported.

The fire started in a townhouse community in the 3500 block of Softwood Terrace as a result of a unidentified resident using lighter fluid to restart a wood-burning fire in the basement, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service Spokesman Pete Piringer said.

“There was some kind of malfunction with the lighter fluid can,” Piringer said. “The fire came back at him and the rest of the lighter fluid became involved. Then the fire spread rapidly.”

The resident left the door to the basement open when evacuating, which fueled the fire, according to Piringer.

Piringer said a neighbor called the fire department after noticing the neighbor’s deck ablaze.

Station 40 of the Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department on Georgia Avenue in Olney was the first to respond at 7:15 p.m. Approximately 100 MCFRS firefighters overall from multiple stations responded to the fire, Piringer said.


County task force helps with Irma relief

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FEMA logoWhile most of Maryland Task Force 1 returned on Sept. 6 after providing relief in Texas following Hurricane Harvey, the task force’s hazmat team redeployed for Hurricane Irma relief. Maryland Task Force 1 is composed of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service personnel. 

While the task force of about 80 members is one of 28 such groups the Federal Emergency Management Agency has throughout the country, the hazmat team is one of six.

“The team itself is four or five hazardous materials technicians from the task force, and their general mission is to support the urban search-and-rescue teams that deployed in this space for Irma,” said Pete Piringer, chief spokesperson for Montgomery Fire & Rescue Service. 


County tries to deal with growing opiod epidemic

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ROCKVILLE – Montgomery County Assistant Police Chief Russ Hamill said he first became aware of the severity of the nationwide opioid crisis at a drug summit put on by the Police Executive Research Forum.

At the summit, Hamill met a police chief from a city in the Northeast, who said two of her officers stood by helpless as teenaged, high school cheerleader with a 4.0 grade point average overdosed on opioids. The police chief then told Hamill that the women who died from the overdose was her daughter.

“It drove the fact home, it drove the point home for many of us,” Hamill said. “Now, it don’t matter who’s daughter it is, who don’t matter who’s friends it is, it’s a humanbeing and all human life has extreme value.”


Fire and Rescue respond to trash fire in Silver Spring

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Trash fire 1Montgomery County Fire and Rescue responded to a trash fire at an apartment complex in Silver Spring. PHOTO COURTESY OF ABBY SALISU Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service responded to a trash fire in Silver Spring Friday morning.

MCFRS Spokesperson Pete Piringer said firefighters responded to a call about a large trash fire at the Aston Woods apartment complex on Gateshead Manor Way in Silver Spring at around 10 a.m. Friday. Piringer said no one was injured in the fire.


Hundreds attend services for firefighter found dead

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MD-Montgomery-COunty-firefighter-Gentilcore-5MCFRS firefighter Charles “Rick” Gentilcore has died after being found unconscious in a local fire station.   COURTESY PHOTOA Montgomery County firefighter died last week after being found unconscious at the Burtonsville Volunteer Fire Department, Fire Station 15.

MCFRS Spokesperson Pete Piringer said Charles “Rick” Gentilcore, 52, sat down and was later found unresponsive in a chair at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Friday, April 7 according to witnesses.

Immediate medical treatment was initiated. Gentilcore was then transported in critical condition to Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring and died later that day.


Seven turns out to be lucky number for Gabriella

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It took seven firefighters from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and two anxious parents-to-be before Gabriella entered the world during this winter’s heaviest snowfall.

Rescue workers from Silver Spring’s Fire Station #1 were called to an “imminent delivery” at an apartment complex on East-West Highway at 3 a.m., March 14.

“It was right during the middle” of the storm, and it was sleeting out, said Jay Miller, master firefighter and paramedic.

A fire engine and an ambulance arrived to find a mother about to give birth to her first child. “She was crowning when we got there,” Miller said.


UPDATE: Local authorities rule death of man found in house explosion site a suicide

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Rockville house explosion 1Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service responded Friday to a home explosion on Ashley Drive in Rockville. The bodies of a man and a dog were found Saturday. FILE PHOTO

ROCKVILLE – The Montgomery County Fire chief said investigators from Montgomery County Police, Fire and Rescue, and the Alcohol, Tobacco, Explosives and Firearms Bureau continue to investigate the cause of Friday’s house explosion where investigators found the remains of a man and his dog. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled the man’s death a suicide.


Man missing after home explosion in Rockville

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Rockville house explosion 2Units from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service responded to a home explosion on Ashley Drive in Rockville. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue are searching for a missing man after a home explosion in Rockville early Thursday morning.

Just before 1:00 a.m., a home located on 11422 Ashley Dr. in the Randolph Hills neighborhood of Rockville exploded, destroying the home. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services Spokesperson Pete Piringer described it as, “complete blast explosion damage, a burning rubble pile, a very large debris field.”


Man who threatened judge with bomb under arrest

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Car Bomb Scare 6A bomb inspector with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service approaches and searches a car for an explosive device. but nothing was found. PHOTO BY MARK POETKER  

Police arrested a man who threatened a judge with a bomb over a domestic court case.

Units from the Montgomery County Police Department and Montgomery County Sheriff's Department were able to locate the suspect through his license plate number and pulled him over at Maryland Avenue and Great Falls Road, near Julius West Middle School. Police then placed the suspect under arrest.

According to Dan Ogrin, battalion chief with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, a canine unit with the County Sheriff’s Department indicated at the scene there could be something inside the car. Access to nearby I-270 was closed in both directions while MCFRS investigated the potential danger.

MCFRS dispatched a robot to search inside the car and the car’s trunk but nothing was found. MCFRS then sent in a bomb inspector in protective gear, but no dangerous materials or weapons were found.

This story will be updated as it develops.




County hears more on fatal fire

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Silver Spring fire 8-11-16An internal audit was held on the County's response to the Flower Branch Apartments fire that killed seven and displaced over 100 people last August. FILE PHOTO  

During their internal audit about the County’s response to the fire at Flower Branch Apartments in Silver Spring that killed seven and displaced more than 100 people last August, County officials did not interview victims from the fire.

At last week’s council meeting, officials from several County agencies briefed the Council on an internal audit of the County’s response in providing services in the immediate aftermath of the fire. The audit listed several recommendations for the County, including a need for better communication between County staff.

Council member Tom Hucker (D-5) said the audit was disappointing and criticized County officials for not interviewing the victims of the fire who received the County’s services.

“It seems strange to me, as an approach, that you would just talk to County agencies and the non-profits we fund, but not the actual victims,” Hucker said.

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