Wednesday, December 11, 2013 10:25 PM
Published on: Thursday, August 29, 2013
By Jim Davis
SILVER SPRING – More than 100 people are homeless and three firefighters injured after battling a three-alarm fire for two hours here Tuesday afternoon.
The fire was reported just before 4 p.m. at the Forest Park apartments in the 9300 block of Piney Branch Road between University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue
Firefighters arrived and encountered heavy fire coming from a terrace level apartment with fire extending to the upper floors of the four-story garden style apartment building with several people trapped on their balconies calling for help.
As one team of firefighters entered the building to make an attack on the fire several other firefighters used ground ladders to rescue several residents from their second and third floor balconies.
With the fire extending to the upper floors and the possibility of the fire extending into another building a second alarm was quickly transmitted.
Firefighters left the building at one point due to the danger of the roof collapsing, they said, and had to battle the fire from the outside. Finally, firefighters were ordered back into the building to attempt to make an attack on the fire that had extending into the attic.
With the temperature near 90 degrees and firefighters becoming exhausted a third alarm was ordered bringing firefighters from the District of Columbia to help battle the massive fire.
Several residents told reporters they were inside their apartment and smelled smoke. When they opened their door heavy smoke flooded the stairwell and firefighters had to help the down the stairs to safety.
Assistant Chief Scott Graham. Public Information officer for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue said seven residents were transported to a local hospital suffering smoke inhalation. Two Montgomery County firefighters were also transported to a local hospital suffering non-life threatening injuries they were treated and released. A Prince George's County volunteer firefighter from Branchville Volunteer Fire Department was also transported to a local hospital where he was admitted for high levels of CO.
Montgomery County Fire Investigators were called to the scene and after an extensive investigation they determine the fire stated in a terrace level bedroom and extended to the upper floor. Investigators say they believe the fire started in a mattress next to an electric socket.
The apartment building is a total loss with more than $1 million in damage and more than $500,000 in property loss.