MCFRS News Release

Multiple Structures Damaged - But Many Saved

Millions of Dollars in Property Damage Avoided
Combustible, flammable materials in garage and windy weather aid spread of fire

A quick response to a 2-Alarm structure fire on Friday, March 10, 2006 by Montgomery County firefighters assigned to Clarksburg and surrounding areas may have averted a conflagration. Due to the expeditious arrival and initial aggressive intervention of firefighters on the scene of an accelerated and growing structure fire, major damage was limited to the garage of origin (and it’s contents) and a nearby house. Several other garages and a residence received some damage. Had the response time been greater, it is conceivable that the volume of fire would have grown rapidly and most certainly involved at least a dozen structures causing major damage, including several additional homes and as many as ten garages resulting in millions of dollars in losses.

Just before 5 p.m. on that date units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service were dispatched for a report of garage fire in the rear of the 12300 block of Cherry Branch Drive, in Clarksburg. Four and half minutes later an engine assigned to Clarksburg, Fire Station 35, a little over 2 miles away arrived at 23206 Tall Poplar Drive, in the Arora Hills neighborhood to find a large detached 2-car garage and vehicle fully engulfed in fire. Heat from the garage fire was already affecting several nearby structures, including the house at 23206 Tall Poplar Drive which was on fire.

The four firefighters assigned to Clarksburg were able to use several hose lines and protect some of these exposure structures until reinforcements arrived from Germantown, Hyattstown, Damascus and other surrounding areas further away to assist with extinguishment. Additional units from these stations arrived slightly more than 9 minutes after the Clarksburg unit had already arrived on the scene and 13-14 minutes after the original fire call was dispatched. A fire typically doubles in size about every minute or so.

At least nine (9) structures were eventually damaged varying from minor heat damage to major fire damage. Overall damage and dollar loss estimates are about $200,000, including almost $100,000 to a house, at least $45,000 to the garage of origin, as well as one vehicle and several other garages. Fire Investigators believe the cause of the fire was accidental, electrical in nature and began in and around an outdoor garage light fixture. One family was displaced due to fire damage to a house.

A fire engine, staffed by a crew of four persons, one of whom is a paramedic has been stationed at the Gateway Center Business Park, just off of Route 121, Clarksburg Road not far from I-270 since the end of November 2005. In the first month of service Clarksburg firefighters responded to over 100 calls for service, mostly in the Clarksburg Town Center area.

On November 20, 2005 personnel reported to duty at 22610 Gateway Center Drive, Suite 400, in Clarksburg. This was the beginning of enhanced fire and rescue service in the Clarksburg area and will be accomplished in two phases. First, crews have been housed in a 3000 square foot warehouse facility that includes one fire engine, office space for an alarm watch desk and sleeping areas.

In a month or so crews will be relocated to a 10,000 square foot space nearby (next door) that will include a fully functional fire station that will be staffed by a crew of at least six persons staffing one fire engine and one paramedic transport unit. This newer facility will include several apparatus bays, an exercise and recreation area, various offices, sleeping areas, kitchen and storage areas. Fire and rescue crews are expected to occupy this facility until a new fire station is built near the intersection of Route 355 and Stringtown Road in 2009-2010.

Prior to the opening of Clarksburg, Fire Station 35 emergency services to this area were provided by fire stations in Hyattstown and Germantown, as well as Damascus and Gaithersburg.

Damage descriptions - March 10, 2006 – 23200 Tall Poplar Dr. and 12300 Cherry Branch Dr.