At least nine people, including five firefighters, were injured in an apartment fire in Temple Hills Thursday night, authorities said.
“We heard a woman say, ‘Hey, it’s hot up here. Help me, help me, it’s getting hot and smoky,” Prince George’s County Fire Capt. Capt. Scott Kilpatrick said.
He climbed a ladder to her balcony. Her apartment was so filled with smoke, he could barely see her, and she was having trouble breathing. He said it was difficult to use his radio.
Kilpatrick was among the firefighters responding to a report of a burning apartment building. Kilpatrick heard an elderly woman’s cries, and located her inside. She became immobilized and Kilpatrick shared his own air supply with her. He says he tried to send a MayDay, and he promised the woman he would get her out. Kilpatrick said that he was determined to get out, and was thinking of his family.
Both Kilpatrick and the woman he rescued were treated at at a hospital, and both are doing fine. Kilpatrick is anticipating a long weekend, grateful to spend the time with family and loved ones.
Press release from PGFD Chief Spokesman Mark Brady:
Four occupants were rescued and five firefighters and one civilian were injured during a 2-alarm fire in Temple Hills Thursday night. At around 10:00 pm, Thursday, August 30, Prince George’s County Firefighter/Medics were alerted to an apartment fire at 3317 Huntley Square Drive in Temple Hills. Fire/EMS units arrived to find a fire in a terrace level apartment of a 3-story (front) 4-story (rear) garden style condominium building.
One team of firefighters started to position themselves with hose lines to initiate an attack on the fire as other firefighters went to the upper floors to search for trapped occupants. A sudden rush of superheated air escaped from the burning apartment consuming the stairwell where firefighters were still positioning themselves. The intense heat and smoke filled the stairwell and hallways injuring firefighters and blocking egress for those on the upper floors.
Firefighters regrouped to advanced hose lines into the burning apartment, as firefighters performing search and rescue on the upper floors were forced to shelter-in place with four occupants, found during the search, unable to escape via the stairwell.
One firefighter located an adult female occupant in the apartment directly above the unit on fire. She had sustained burns to her lower extremities and her apartment was charged with thick toxic smoke. Unable to escape via the stairwell he sheltered-in-place and called for help on his radio. The firefighter removed his face piece that provides him fresh breathing air and placed in on the face of the female. The firefighter radioed his position to incident commanders and requested immediate assistance. The firefighter and the female then took turns taking breaths of fresh air from the face piece. A few moments later the firefighter radioed that his air was running low just as other firefighters arrived to assist him and the female out of the apartment. The female was transported to the Burn Unit and has been admitted. The firefighter was transported to a local hospital where he was admitted overnight for treatment of heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. He has since been released this morning. Both are expected to fully recover.
Three other occupants were removed from the building by firefighters from their upper floor apartments. There were no injuries to these occupants or firefighters during the rescues.
There were four firefighters that sustained minor burn injuries from the rush of superheated air while in the stairwell. They were transported to the Burn Unit at Medstar Washington Hospital Center. They were all treated and released last night.
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During the height of the incident with firefighters sustaining injuries and numerous rescues in progress, incident commanders requested a Second Alarm and additional EMS resources to the scene. There were about 65 personnel operating on the scene.
The fire in the terrace apartment was extinguished within 20 minutes. Fire Investigators determined the cause of the fire was “accidental” and attributed to unattended cooking. Fire loss is estimated at $25,000. Cooking, most notably unattended cooking, is the leading cause of fires and fire related injuries in Prince Georges County and throughout the Country.
There were 7 condominium units that were declared uninhabitable. 12 adults and 4 children occupy those 7 units. They were assisted on the scene by the County Citizen Services Unit and declined Red Cross assistance, as they will make their own temporary living arrangements.