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Latest from PGFD: Bladensburg VFD Firefighters Ethan Sorrell & Kevin O'Toole both in critical condition with burns.

Photo by Billy McNeel.

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Fireground Audio & Earlier Coverage

Bladensburg VFD

Riverdale VFD


Notes: Bladensburg VFD Chief Randy Kuenzli confirms both Firefighter Ethan Sorrell and Firefighter Kevin O'Toole have connections to other departments in addition to Bladensburg VFD. Sorrell at the Buies Creek FD in North Carolina and O'Toole at the Bethpage FD on Long Island.

Also, this fire occurred on the same side of 57th Avenue just a few doors away from a November 2008 house fire that left two Riverdale VFD firefighters with burns after a flashover.

In addition, Mark Brady tells the annual banquet for Bladensburg VFD is tonight and that both firefighters have indicated to Chief Kuenzli they want the events to go on as scheduled and for everyone to enjoy themselves.

This fire was at 6318 57th Avenue on November 21, 2008. The flashover burned two firefighters from Riverdale. Picture by Tony George. See more pictures.

From PGFD Chief Spokesman Mark Brady at 9:30 AM:

Three firefighters remain hospitalized at the Washington Hospital Center after sustaining injuries battling a house fire in Riverdale on Friday evening.

Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Fighter Ethan Sorrell, 21 years of age, remains in "Critical" condition with burns to his airway.  Family members left Durham NC, last night to be with him today.

Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Fighter Kevin O’Toole, 22 years of age, was evaluated late last night/early this morning as being in "Critical" condition with 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 40% of his body.  Family members from Long Island, NY, were en route last night to be with Kevin.

Riverdale Volunteer Fire Fighter Michael McLary, 19 years of age, continued to receive treatment for injuries to his upper body/ribs.  His ribs are not fractured, however, bruised with possible cartilage damage.  He may be released as early as today.  Family members were with him last night.

Dozens of family, friends and fire service personnel have been at the hospital throughout the night with the injured firefighters and remain there today.  The Burn Unit at the Washington Hospital Center, their Doctors and staff are the very best at what they do – treating burn patients.  

The Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department sincerely appreciates the support provided by the DC Firefighters Burn Foundation.  The Foundation is dedicated to assisting in the recovery and rehabilitation of injured firefighters and burn patients in the D.C. Metropolitan Area.  Members of the Foundation were at the hospital before the first firefighter arrived and started support efforts for the injured firefighters, family and co-workers.  Two of the injured firefighters have primary family members coming from out of town.  The Foundation made accommodations for them at a nearby hotel and will continue to provide support for as long as is needed.

Firefighters that have been previously burned and treated at the Burn Unit become members of a fraternity.  These firefighters return to the Burn Unit whenever a firefighter receives burn injuries and provide valuable insight to family, friends and co-workers about the treatment and recovery process.  One of those fraternity members is Riverdale Volunteer Chief Chuck Ryan.  He sustained critical burn injuries while on the job with DCFD.  Ryan was at the Burn Unit overnight helping others to understand the treatment process that Bladensburg firefighters were receiving and what to expect in the days to come.

The volunteer leadership of Blandensburg, Riverdale, College Park as well as Fire Chief Marc Bashoor and the entire Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department acknowledge and are grateful the tremendous outpouring and offers of assistance from fire departments across the National Capitol Region.  We are also inspired by the numerous well wishes, thoughts and prayers being offered from across the Country for our injured firefighters.

Prince George's County Fire Investigators continue their work to determine the cause and origin of the fire.  The investigation is open and on-going.  Fire loss to the vacant structure is estimated at $75,000.

Updates on the medical condition of the injured firefighters will be provided as additional information becomes available.

Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor will be at the Washington Hospital Center and will make himself available for comment anytime after 9:30 am.  Please contact me to make arrangements.


Comments - Add Yours

  • Stay alive

    A VACANT HOUSE? Really guys!!!!!! Let me guess, umm there could be some people inside? Jesus Christ! Now three lives forever changed because of a pile of wood and nails!

    • Brokenhearted

      Go swallow some lead.

      • Pipeman

        Amen to that

    • rachel

      It was nighttime and a car was in the driveway. Any firefighter would have gone in.

    • DCFD

      Mr. Stay Alive obviously stands outside.

    • Tower5Ladder

      You, and your comments are a major problem in the fire service today.  In no way are your dillusional views of safety legitimate.  If you cant handle it, its not for you!

    • ltfd seattle

      Sorry dude, but your statement has NO validity; the majority of house fires are started by human activity, or the utilities supporting human occupancy- gas, electric, wood fuel heating, etc. Probability points towards human occupancy at a house fire; if your size up completely rules that out, then you adjust the risk/benefit analysis and the level of your firefighters' engagement.
      There is no way to tell upon arrival at a house fire, in a residential neighborhood, with a car in the driveway of the house on fire, that there is no human life inside the structure. If you actually have a methodology for accurately making that determination, you can be a millionaire in six months, or teaching classes to EVERY fire department in North America for the next several years.
      As to selection of firefighting tactics at this incident- environmental conditions, side of attack entry, hoselines, etc., that is for the post-incident-analysis report to comment on.

  • Anonymous

    How can anyone with any degree of certainty really criticize how,why,whynot, who these young Firefighters did what they are Trained to do. Yes the House was determined to be vacant. However there was and is the possibility that some person, or persons may be inside. ie; Homeless folks looking for a warm place etc. Suppose the idea that the House was vacant and no one checked inside, and there happened to be someone inside? The criticism ould then reflect Firefighters didnot do a thorough check of the premises. Come on now how about everyone take a step back, stop and offer a Prayer to the recovery of these young Firefighters. The comment (s) here are from people who werenot on the scene. Who can say what, when,who, why,whynot,how the Operations wre handled? PG Fire and EMS has specific SOPs and the ICS which obviously was in place. What occurred on the scene only those who there know. I am quite sure Fire Chief Bashoor and his Staff both Career and Volunteer will sort out things with an After Action Review. Right now TOP PRIORITY Hopefully these young Firefighters will survive and Live another Day.

  • Mutch

    It is easy to sit behind a computer screen… many miles away and Monday morning quarterback a news story. I listened to the audio of the incident and nowhere did I hear the words… “VACANT HOUSE”. It was dispathed as a reported "HOUSE FIRE". The original story also mentioned that there was a car in the driveway upon arrival of the first units.
    So we are responding to a report of a “HOUSE FIRE” and we find a car in the driveway when we arrive… what do we do?
    I listened to the PIO explain what happened and to me it seems to have been a freak accident caused by extremely high winds. But I am not an expert and will wait until the full and complete investigation is completed… then we will all know exactly what happened.
    Until then maybe we should limit our criticisms and negative comments. But thank you for your input anyway.

  • Nova Fireman

    Yes the people on here talking about if the should or shouldn't go in a vacant building really should go fly a kite these braves souls are in the hospital in critical condition looking at months of painful rehab. What they need from us is our prayers and support!!!! God bless them and their families!!! We are lucky to have the brave souls protecting the people of PG county!!! 

  • Resident

    They are just kids were is the supervision?

  • Scooter

    Vacant does not mean unoccupied in the urban setting and a car out front on this looks like it is in good condition. come on man WTF! in the rural setting vacant is vacant almost always.  Vacant in the urban setting also means you can loose the block of other occupied dwellings if you don't put it out.  Strike Da Box! K

  • Anonymous

    The comments by Resident, seem to reflect there was no immediate superevision. As your comments say,  They were just kids, yes they are young people. They are also adults. Kids could reflect youngsters who were  free wheeling their activities. They didnot  just arrive on the scene and jump off the Apparatus and run into the House. Come on now, They had to follow orders immediately given as to what their primary job was. Yes they went inside, do you really think they just ran into the House wnot wearing PPE/SCBA Charged Hose line? The ICS was in place, SOPs wre in place. This terrible occurrance was caused by high winds whipping and fanning the Fire very rapidly. Again the Negative words imply no supervision was there. I am inclined to believethat is simply not waht happened. One of these Firefighters was 19 years of age, the other is 22 years of age. What is wrong with you? Right now these two Brave young Firefighters are fighting for their Life. I believe one has serious Burns to the Airway, the other has serious Burns to his Torso. Back off all the Negative thoughts and words.

  • John R Ford

    Yes they were young, and im sure trained to do the job, Things go wrong some times and they get hurt. We have young men and wemon in the armed forces they get shot or killed, are you going to ask if they had training also. They need Prayer now not a lot of he said she said crap. I started at 14 yrs old did that make me wrong. Guess im a loser. But i was proud to be one.

  • Rake

    Hate to see these guys hurt. Hope they are feeling better soon. Hope the job is critiqued when the time is right and lessons shared for all to learn… but that time is not now.


    Stay Alive….Stay Outside

    • Stay alive

      Hey broken hearted, you first! I won't die for a vacant house! You save the bullet and and be a hero like these guys! Burned for life. Nice save!

    • DCFD


    • CHAOS

      I'm pretty sure Mr. (or Ms.) Stay Alive spends plenty of time doing OUTstanding work.  Perhaps he can enlighten us how his FD identifies vacant structures & their SOG to deduce it is vacant with a vehicle in the driveway.  Please hurry, Stay Alive, so that we may learn from your awesomeness!
      PG, get better soon.

  • Anonymous

    Uncontrolled Ventilation!!!!!!!!!      It is a tragedy that this occured but we can only blame the training that has been provided or the lack of compitant officers on the scene.  I have been on many firegrouds where there is uncontrolled ventilation and it is a shame that there where very high winds at this particular fire.  Hopefully we all can learn from this situation and apply it next time.  I hope for a full and speedy recovery for all involved both menatally and phisically.  As far as entering the structure, any single one of us would have done the same thing.  Car or no car. Lets learn from our mistakes.


    It looks like the medics did a great job keeping those ff alive! Great job! Our thoughts are with all of you get well soon.

  • mdff

    Stay Alive, I suppose you have never been to an apparent vacant building/dwelling and someone is actually inside. I happens quite frequently. Come clean Stay alive where do you ride the medic unit?

  • Anonymous

    First and foremost – Heal well brothers. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your families.
    Second – Please keep your negative comments to yourself. I'm certain there is something to be learned, but wait until the men are better and the facts are known and not assumed.
    Third – NO structure is vacant until WE confirm and say it is.

  • Rudedawg

    First I hope everyone recovers. We must look at this occurence and try to understand what caused this to occur. Then we must make everyone aware of how and why it occured. Finally we must take these lessons, and not let them happen to others.

  • Gpach

    To sit around and monday morning quaterback this event is useless in my eyes!!  These guys did what they were trained to do and unfortunately got caught up in whirlwind of bad stuff.  Its easy for those of us who do this type of job to say "he shouldve stayed out", "are they nuts?" but when the bells roll and the adrenaline starts to pump, the decision to go or not is up to the those riding the front seat and the incident commander.  Lets keep these guys in our thoughts and prayers for a full recovery.  I have never been burned severly but have been told that the burn unit is not some place I want to end up at unless I am visiting!!  We can learn lessons or not, up to you!!  Take care

  • ukfbbuff

    My thoughts and prayers go out to;
    Michael McLeary, Kevin O'Toole, Ethan Sorrell for a speedy recovery from their injuries.

  • ukfbbuff

    My thoughts and prayers go out to:
    Michael McLeary, Kevin O'Toole, Ethan Sorrell for a speedy recovery from their injures and
    return to work.

  • EngineBoss

    Commenting on the way the job was handled when firefighters are severely injured immediately following an incident will only piss people off because emotions are running high right now.
    To the brothers who are injured, we will be wishing for the best and that you guys can pull through this with minimum long term problems. 
    As for any kind of criticism… I will only say that this is a heads up to everyone to be careful with high winds… ventilation sometimes needs to be delayed until a good bit of fire is knocked down because this type of thing can happen so quickly that there is little you can do except kiss the floor and start crawling. 
    This fire will be investigated and once the facts are put together we can learn from them.  Until then, please, Any firefighter worth his name would assume someone was inside with a car parked in front of the house… unless the owner was standing right there and telling me everyone is out…
    Stay strong guys, if we can't pull together to wish an injured brother well, then we are not worthy of being a part of the "brotherhood"

  • Anonymous

    Were any of you there?   If not Then shut  up.  How do you know what you would do.?       In PG a lot of house look vacant, bur are not. At the time they were doing what they thought was correct. You know, put out the fire. Have you delt wIth wind blown fires?  It is a bad deal.  Pray for the brothers and family. 
    0 cool

  • union

    looks like 1619 with another great save. Great job with saving lives!!!
    Get well soon boy!!!! God Bless!!!

    • BH

      Except they were volunteers, sooo……….

  • Stay alive

    Why is it you big dragon slayers in douche bag of Columbus and the giant state of Mary-land always use the ole ” you must be and outside guy” tag line? I mean if you stooges aren’t either fighting over the Volly vs full time circus, your fighting over who got there first, your just Hazing the hell out of some young new recruits! Oh wait I forgot about falling out of fire trucks and then blaming every one but the idiot who should have buckled UP! You are all a huge joke in the fire community and we thank you for hours of fine entertainment! I love the whole ” high wind” and “blow torch” excuses. And I have not seen anywhere in these mindless post about a SEARCH BEING DONE FOR THE CAR OWNER! The pio clearly said “the crew initiated an interior attack” . Sounds like some folks are trying to cover up their tracks. Cant wait for the OSHA and NIOSH report. So keep it up guys, your all making the rest of us look awesome!

    • CHAOS

      Well, not from DC or MD here, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express once.  I have read up on the incident instead of just blasting people with a half-ass attitude like you.  One statement from the FD said that the event happened shortly after crews entered the building.   Having been in high wind conditions (I guess you don't get much wind sitting in front of your computer), it seems pretty easily understandable how venting in the rear (where the wind is coming from) can create a blowtorch effect out the front of the building.  Remember the part about 50-60 mph wind gusts??  You must be very gifted to know that their "interior attack crew" were all on a hoseline together. Hint, there were more than 3 of them in there.  Many FDs include search as a function of going interior.  Try it sometime, you might like it.
      By the way, we're still waiting for your explanation of how your FD identifies vacant buildings and then further deduces that vehicles in the driveway mean nothing towards possible occupants.  You can save many of our lives with this critical information.  Please hurry.

    • Andrew P.

      PG General Orders state that the first engine and first truck are to initiate a search, locate the basement stairs, and then hold them in the event of a basement fire.  You sound like a guy who follows the rules, so chances are you would have done the same thing.  Also, keep in mind that the whole event took place in less than 15 seconds. 
      Some day in the forseeable future, experts in the fire service will gather and attempt to find out what exactly happened, how it happened, and also how to prevent it from every occurring again.  I humbly suggest, unless you are part of that group, to keep your mouth closed.  Now is not the time to point fingers at anyone and play the "blame game".  Now is the time to come together; to support Kevin and Ethan through their long road to recovery.  The way you speak candidly about this whole ordeal makes it very obvious to me that you have never been burned.  I can tell you from experience (minor, but experience nonetheless) that it was the scariest moment of my life.  You may have a spotless safety record in the fire service, but with the way you speak about fellow firefighters, you are NOT a part of the brotherhood.  I hope I am never afforded the chance to work with you, and I pray for those that do.
      P.S. – (I hope Dave still posts my reply after this) If you would like to make a point, using proper spelling/grammar packs a punch.  Maybe you should try it sometime ;-)

    • Fed

      Yes we do it better than you. Career or volunteer. It's a dangerous job and sometimes men get hurt. If you can't handle it do something else. Best wishes to the men and I pray for their speedy recovery. 

  • Bill S.

    Well… as I said in another thread: util the fire service figures out how to mount a crystal ball in all fire apparatus that tells us if a house is vacant or how the fire attack is going to turn out, things like this will happen. Last time I checked, ESP is not taught in fire school. But apparently it is in some parts of the US, because there are lots of folks on here that were nowhere near this incident, let alone in the state of Maryland that already knew this house in question was vacant. And somehow these same folks knew that the wind was going to cause the house to go up like a torch. In order for the rest of us that are not trained in ESP or have the crystal balls instead of MDT's please tell us all how to get this training. Our lives and everyone elses depends on this.

  • Play4keeps

    Typical nonsense.  This was an extreme fire condition. Vacancy has no bearing on it. Remember Kyle from Prince William a few years back?  These conditions  might warrant a  2 1/2  charged going in the front and maybe a change in search tactics (no searching wo a line which we all know is high risk).  Leave the assumed vacant building talk for another  discussion.  Get well brothers! 


    None of us were there. If you don't have any positive to say then cut your computer off. Praying for you brothers. From NC.

  • Mcclary

    @ stay alive please watch what u say, my brother is one of the ones that got hurt and from what he and the other officers said they were only in the house 25 seconds when the wind blew in and created a torch on them, stop fighting with everyone and be a real person and pray for these men, un less ur heartless? Stay strong guys we will continue praying for all who were invovled.

  • Stay alive

    Well when did I blame the guys that got burned? I blame your misguided tactics and thought process! One person posted about changing your tactics as conditions warrant. But nobody called him "an outside guy" ! And your right you do do it better down there! You get burned more! Your all heroes.sadly for nothing as usual. Oh I'm sorry, I missed a capital letter in here somewhere, I'm not worthy of talking with you stooges! Some other mindless hero said I wasnt part of the brotherhood, I'm totally at ease knowing its not with you idiots!