MCFRS News Release

Wheaton Man in Critical Condition

56 year-old Resident Injured While Cooking
Neighbor Renders Aid

Just before 6 p.m. on Sunday, September 17, 2006 units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service were dispatched for an automatic fire alarm at 1121 University Boulevard west at the Arcola Towers Apartments, in Wheaton. As fire and rescue units were arriving on the scene as a 911 call was received reporting a fire with an injury on the 10th floor. The Arcola Towers is a 15-story high rise building.

First arriving firefighters encountered a burn victim as they entered the building’s first floor lobby area. The 56-year old male had suffered serious burns to his upper body. He was treated on the scene and transported to the MedStar Burn Unit at the Washington Hospital Center. The building had been partially evacuated prior to the arrival of firefighters.

Firefighters found “fire out conditions” with minimal fire damage on the 10th floor. Montgomery County Fire and Explosive Investigators believe the fire was accidental. The preliminary investigation indicated that a lone resident, a 56-year-old male was cooking over a natural gas stove top and accidentally caught his clothing on fire. He seems to have panicked and for a few moments hurriedly tried to extinguish the fire while in his apartment making loud noises in the process. He then quickly left his apartment and entered into the hallway in an attempt to alert a neighbor of his situation. This neighbor was not home.

However, another neighbor hearing the commotion had entered the hallway from another direction and proceeded toward the commotion and calls for help. This neighbor met the victim near the 10th floor elevator lobby area. The victims clothing was ablaze. A hallway smoke alarm activated alerting the alarm company and sounding the building’s fire alarm. The neighbor quickly assisted the man by snuffing out the flames and removing the burning clothes from the victim. He then called 911. Both men then proceeded to the lobby via the stairwell and met arriving emergency fire and rescue crews. The quick and decisive actions by the neighbor were potentially life-saving.

The 56-year old male victim has serious and life-threatening burn injuries. He was transported to the Burn Unit by a paramedic unit. He is critical condition.