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Fireground audio & morning update: Seven firefighters hurt in Prince George's County, MD when high winds send 'blowtorch' through home. Two from Bladensburg admitted to burn center. Both critical.

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Bladensburg VFD

Riverdale VFD



The only update we have seen since Mark Brady's press release at 1:00 AM is that both firefighters from Bladensburg admitted to the burn center are listed as critical but stable and the Riverdale firefighter with broken ribs is in good condition.

From WRC-TV this morning:

Brady said that the home appeared to be vacant, though a car was parked in the driveway. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation and loss estimates were not immediately available

The fire broke out shortly after 9 p.m. Friday at a single-family, single-story home in the 6400 block of 57th Street in Riverdale. Investigators say that firefighters were trying to enter the building when a rush of air from the rear of the house created a fireball that engulfed the respondents. According to Prince George's Fire Spokesman Mark Brady, the sudden rush of air was caused by either a door or window being open or broken out.

Approximately 1:00 AM update from PGFD chief spokesman Mark Brady:

Seven Prince George’s County Firefighters were injured as they battled a house fire in Riverdale.  At about 9:11 pm, Friday, February 24, firefighters were alerted to a house fire in the 6400 block of 57th Avenue.  The engine from Riverdale and the truck from Bladensburg were the first to arrive and encountered a 1-story, with basement, single family home with fire on both levels. 

Preliminary reports indicate that firefighters had initiated an interior attack on the fire when a sudden rush of air, fanned by high winds, entered from the rear of the house either from a door or window being opened or broken out.  The sudden addition of a large amount of fresh air into the fire environment created a “fire ball’ inside engulfing the firefighters.  Firefighters did all they could do to escape the untenable conditions that consumed the structure interior.

Incident commanders immediately called for additional resources by requesting an EMS Task Force and a Fire Task Force as well as ordering the evacuation tones to be sounded.   There were about 65 firefighters, paramedics and incident commanders on the scene.

Photo by Billy McNeel. 

Firefighters and EMS personnel went to the aid of the injured firefighters and prepared them for transport to the Burn Unit at the Washington Hospital Center.  The injuries included burns, fractures and lacerations.

Another team of firefighters regrouped outside and re-entered the structure and had the fire extinguished in about 25 minutes after arrival. 

Of the seven firefighters transported; four, 3 from Riverdale and 1 from College Park, will be released and sent home tonight. 

The most seriously injured firefighters are two from the Bladensburg Fire/EMS Station #809 that were part of the first arriving truck company.  

Bladensburg Volunteer Firefighter #1 is listed in “Critical” condition suffering from burn injuries to his upper body.

Bladensburg Volunteer Firefighter #2 is listed in “Serious” condition with 2nd and 3rd degree burns to 30% of his body.

The third firefighter being admitted is from Riverdale Fire/EMS Station #807.  Riverdale Volunteer Firefighter #1 is hospitalized with fractured ribs.

Dozens of fire service members as well as family and friends are with the injured firefighters at the Washington Hospital Center including Fire Chief Marc S. Bashoor, Riverdale Volunteer Fire Chief Chucky Ryan and Bladensburg Volunteer Chief Randy Kuenzli.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation and fire loss estimates are not yet available.  This is a vacant structure although firefighters believed the house may have been occupied as a car was parked in the driveway.

The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department will fully investigate this incident and review all aspects of the operations from a safety perspective.
Updates concerning the medical status and the cause and origin of the fire will be made as information becomes available.


Earlier coverage:

UPDATE: According to TV news reports at 11:00 PM, PGFD chief spokesman Mark Brady says a fireball, fueled by high winds, went through the home forcing the firefighters to bail out. Brady said it was like a "blowtorch".

Some firefighters were burned and others were hurt exiting the home. The injuries range from burns, to lacerations and fractures.

Brady told reporters on the scene one firefighter has potentially life threatening burns.

According to Brady, the injured firefighters are volunteers from Riverdale (Station 807) and Bladensburg (Station 809).

The Washington Post:

A sudden rush of air into the structure caused “blowtorch or furnace-type conditions” that forced the firefighters out of the house, Brady said. “They couldn’t do anything about it.” Wind gusts were measured at more than 40 mph around that time.

Injuries included burns, cuts and fractures, Brady said. One firefighter was in critical condition, he said. The firefighters were being treated at a burn unit, he said.

Mark Brady's Tweets


Seven firefighters were injured while responding to a house fire in the 6300 block of 57th Ave. in Riverdale on Friday night, according to a tweet by the Prince George County Fire Department.

A one story home with a basement had heavy fire, with flames blown into the firefighters' faces by gusting winds. EMS personnel are on the scene. The firefighters, all volunteers, have injuries ranging from minor to serious.


Seven PGFD firefighters have been injured, most of them seriously, in a residential fire in Riverdale, according to a spokesperson for the Prince George's County Fire Department.

The fire was in a single-family, one-story home with a basement in the 6400 block of 57th Ave. The fire was reportedly heavy and something went wrong.

A medevac helicopter and several ambulances were requested.


Seven firefighters were injured, and most suffered serious injuries, according to Brady. Some could be life-threatening.

The home appeared to be vacant, Brady said.

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