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Greenbelt apartment blaze displaces 125

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Photo by Jim Davis. Prince George’s County firefighters battle a two-alarm fire that displaced more than 125 people at the Franklin Park Apartments in Greenbelt.

Photo by Jim Davis. Prince George’s County firefighters battle a two-alarm fire that displaced more than 125 people at the Franklin Park Apartments in Greenbelt.

Published on: Wednesday, January 02, 2013

By Jim Davis

More than125 people were displaced from their homes the day after Christmas after a fire erupted at the Franklin Park Apartments complex in Greenbelt. The blaze destroyed three apartment buildings.

The fire was reported around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 26, in the 9100 block of Edmonston Terrace. When firefighters arrived on the scene, they encountered heavy fire conditions on the second and third floors of the three-story, garden-style apartment building.

With the possibility of the fire extending to adjacent buildings, Volunteer Fire Chief Danny McCoy of Berwyn Heights Volunteer Fire Department quickly called for a second alarm. This alarm brought 50 more firefighters to help battle the massive blaze.

Prior to firefighters arriving on the scene, a man was trapped in his second-floor apartment and jumped from his balcony to safety, a resident said.

As firefighters attacked the flames, firefighters from Truck 809 Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department rescued a man from his third floor balcony by using a ground ladder, said Mark Brady, chief spokesman for Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department.

At one point, the fire extended into two other buildings and through the roof of one building. Firefighters had to evacuate and battle the fire from the exterior, Brady said.

One firefighter declared a Mayday after becoming separated from his crew while operating in the building at the height of the fire. The firefighter maintained his location until he was located by other firefighters. The firefighter was not injured.

It took firefighters about 45 minutes to control the blaze, and no injuries were reported, Brady said.

“If the fire was at 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning, we could have had a number of rescues and maybe a number of people killed,” Brady said. “We were very lucky.”

After an extensive investigation, Prince George’s County fire investigators ruled the fire accidental and attributed the cause to a malfunctioning furnace. Preliminary fire loss is estimated at $250,000.

There are a total of 30 apartments in the three buildings — 21 of which were destroyed or suffered extensive damage as a result of the fire.

A resident who lived in a unit that was destroyed told The Sentinel that she had just moved in and has lost everything. She has no place to go, she said. 

Residents were taken to Springhill  Lake Recreation Center, where the Red Cross was standing by to assist them.

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