MCFRS News Release

Rockville Man Succumbs to Injuries

84 year-old Resident Injured Fighting Fire Dies

On Thursday, February 9, 2005, just after 5 p.m., units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service responded to a house fire at 1201 Gladstone Drive, in Rockville. First arriving firefighters encountered heavy fire conditions throughout the two-story house. Three of the home’s occupants were transported to area hospitals along with an injured firefighter. An 84 year old male resident was hospitalized in critical condition suffering from serious burns and smoke inhalation. He was injured while attempting to fight the fire prior to the arrival of fire and rescue crews. On Sunday, February 26, 2006, Francis Richard Deleo, age 84 died of complications associated with injuries sustained when he attempted to extinguish the fire.

Fire Investigators believe some time elapsed as Mr. Deleo and others attempted to fight the fire before calling 911. Damage was estimated to be nearly $400,000 dollars and was caused by a discarded cigarette in a couch. Mr. Deleo is the first fire fatality reported this year in Montgomery County. Last year, five Montgomery County residents were killed in residential fires. Most recently Mr. Joseph Walsh, age 80, of Leisure World died of smoke inhalation on December 2, 2005 as the result of a kitchen fire in an apartment located below his. Prior to Mr. Walsh, four other senior citizens over age 75 died in fires all of which were started by careless smoking and/or improperly discarded smoking materials.

On April 14, 2005 Jack Siedel, age 75 and his wife Lanita, age 90, died as a result of a fire in their apartment at 1220 East West Highway, in Silver Spring. On May 7, 2005, Edward Wallace, age 79, died as a result of fire that occurred on April 11, 2005, in his apartment located at 415 Russell Avenue, in Gaithersburg and Valich Mossari-Amin, age 93, died on September 6, 2005 after accidentally setting her nightgown on fire on September 2, 2005. Again, the leading cause of fire fatalities in Montgomery County, five out of the last six has been related to smoking materials followed by one associated with unattended cooking.

There have been reports of some occupants of several recent fires in Montgomery County attempting to fight fires thus delaying alarms before calling 9-1-1. Fire Investigators believe that in most cases these delays have resulted in additional property damage and the potential for injury was increased. Dozens of families have been displaced and several persons were injured, including firefighters.

Recently, on Wednesday, February 22 around 1:40 a.m., units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service were dispatched for the report of a townhouse fire at #21 Honey Brook Lane, in Gaithersburg. It is believed that discarded smoking materials started a fire in a second floor bedroom and a 19 year-old male was injured trying to put the fire out before calling 911. He was transported to a local hospital with smoke inhalation. Another occupant was treated on the scene. Damage was estimated at least $200,000.

Firefighters want all residents to know to always remember - If a fire starts in your home GET OUT, STAY OUT and call 911 IMMEDIATELY closing the door to the room on fire as you go! DO NOT DELAY as fire doubles in size every minute.

The fires this time of year are often the result of improperly discarded smoking materials, food left cooking unwatched, candles left burning unattended, combustibles too close to a heating systems and misplaced fireplace ashes, to name a few.

Below are guidelines for developing and practicing a home fire escape plan: Know what to do! First, make sure to have at least one smoke alarm on each level of the home and in or near each sleeping area. Test the alarms every month by pushing the test button, and replace the batteries twice a year (when you change your clock in the spring & fall) or when the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low.