NEW CARROLLTON — An abysmal house fire has resulted in the death of a local woman, consequently raising concerns of understaffing in the Prince George’s County Fire Department (PGFD).
The PGFD responded to the 6400 block of Inlet Street in New Carrollton for a reported house fire shortly after 6 p.m. on Jan. 18. Initial 911 calls indicated two individuals were trapped in the basement of the home. Upon arrival, units discovered a “well-advanced fire,” said PGFD.
Fighting heavy fire conditions, firefighters located and rescued both occupants from the basement of the home within minutes. Both patients were transported with critical life-threatening injuries within 15 minutes of dispatch. Video of the fire was posted online by PGFD.
Anita Ellis, 57, of Landover, died shortly after arriving at an area hospital, PGFD said. The autopsy report is pending. The other patient, an adult male, remains in critical condition, according to officials.
In addition, a member of the College Park Volunteer Fire Department is recovering from injuries he suffered while fighting the fire, officials said. He was transported to a local burn unit where he was treated for second-degree burns and has since been released from the hospital.
Four other adults were able to evacuate themselves from home, and one of them was transported to a local hospital for observation.
“The closest Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Stations, Stations 848, 828, and 813 are volunteer stations and were not in service at the time of the fire,” said the department in a statement, which has raised concerns of staffing shortages in PGFD.
The fire department said it has a goal of five minutes and 20 seconds for the first arriving unit to a structure fire and a secondary goal of ensuring 15 firefighters on scene within 12 minutes of dispatch. In this incident, the first unit arrived on the scene in six minutes and 30 seconds, and 15 firefighters were on scene within 12 minutes.
According to a timeline the department released, Paramedic Engine 830 from the Landover Hills Station arrived on scene seven minutes after the initial dispatch.
The first patient was rescued from the basement at approximately 6:16 p.m., and two minutes later, the second patient was rescued from the basement.
“The department utilizes analytic software to balance resources based on call volume and station availability,” PGFD said in a Facebook post.
“The software is designed to ensure response in all areas of the county when stations are placed out of service or unavailable due to other calls. The fire appears to have started in the basement and does not appear to be suspicious at this time. There were no working smoke alarms in the home.”
The investigation into the cause and origin of the fire is still ongoing. An internal review regarding staffing needs is also underway, PGFD said.