Three people were rescued from their balconies Wednesday evening after a massive two-alarm fire erupted at an Adelphi condominium building that sent five people to the hospital including three firefighters. Shortly after 5 p.m. firefighters from Prince George’s County Fire Department along with units from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue responded to the Presidential Park […]
Three people were rescued from their balconies Wednesday evening after a massive two-alarm fire erupted at an Adelphi condominium building that sent five people to the hospital including three firefighters.
Shortly after 5 p.m. firefighters from Prince George’s County Fire Department along with units from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue responded to the Presidential Park Condominiums in the 9200 block of New Hampshire Avenue for a reported building fire, according to Mark Brady, spokesperson for Prince George’s County Fire Department.
“First arriving units encounter heavy fire conditions coming from the top floor of a four story building,” Brady said. “Firefighters also encounter several people trapped on their balconies.”
Firefighters from Chillum Adelphi Fire Station 834 used their 100 foot ladder truck to rescue the trapped residents from their balconies Brady said.
Thomas Rhodes, a 14-year veteran firefighter, said when he arrived on scene the full focus was on rescuing the stranded residents.
“We saw two people on the balcony. I didn’t care about the fire,” Rhodes said. “These two people needed to get down on the ground and need to be saved. They needed help.”
Once the ladder was raised to the balcony, Rhodes was able to get a woman onto the ladder and then he was able to get the man onto the ladder, Both. had to be maneuvered into a stokes basket. The elderly woman had significant mobility issues. Her husband simple couldn’t move anymore from exhaustion.
With heavy fire conditions showing, the possibility of the fire extending throughout the building and more residents trapped, a second alarm was quickly transmitted bringing additional units to help battle the fire. Approximately 90 firefighters and 25 service vehicles from across Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties were called in.
Two residents were transported to a local hospital with one resident is in serious condition while the other suffered minor injuries. Three firefighters were also transported to the hospital. One suffered a leg injury, the other two firefighters were taken to the Washington Hospital Center Burn unit with inhalation injuries. All five were treated and released.
Fire Chief Marc Bashoor of the Prince George’s County Fire Department said the “firefighters did a great job getting the ladders in place so they can rescue the trapped residents.”
“This is what we train for,” said Miguel Ocasio, Jr., who has served as a firefighter for two years. “The key was to keep calm and not get any tunnel vision. As we were climbing the ladder I looked to the left and it was a lot of fire and I was like, wow. It’s got to be hot in there. The first thing I thought about was my crew that was inside. But I also realized that I did have a task to complete and my main focus was to think about the task.”
As Rhodes and Ocasico were rescuing the two from the balcony, Prince George’s County Fire Lieutenant Steve Tabak and his crew were searching for anyone trapped on the fire floor.
“The hallway was pitch black. A lot of heat. We were pretty much forced to crew,” Tabak said. “We searched using our tools, using our hands, and I had a thermal imaging camera.”
They did not find anyone trapped, but Tabak burned his knees in the process.
All of the residents in the building were displaced Wednesday Brady said. Approximately 40 condos make up the building, with more than 100 residents. Four units, with 10 occupants total, required Red Cross assistance.
“This was only the second time in 35 years in my career with the county I have seen rescue like this bring made,” Bashoor said. “You know I couldn’t be prouder of these guys. They were confronted with some of the most severe circumstances that many of them have seen in their careers.”
Preliminary investigation by fire investigators from Prince George’s County Fire Department found nothing suspicious and believe the fire was accidental and may have started in the kitchen of a unit.
It took firefighters about 45 minutes to bring the fire under control with no further injuries reported.