MCFRS News Release
December's Fire Loss (so far) Nears $4 Million
Improperly Placed Fireplace Ashes the Cause for $1.8 Million Dollars in Damage
Typically the winter months of December, January and February are the busiest in terms of emergency fire responses for area fire and rescue departments. Since the last week of November and so far in the month of December (14 days) fire and rescue crews have been particularly busy in Montgomery County. Estimated fire losses for the last two weeks alone exceed over $ 4.5 million dollars in damage, have resulted in one fire fatality, injured several citizens and have displaced dozens of persons and many families.
Around 8:45 p.m. on Friday, November 24, 2006 units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service responded to the Highland House Apartments, located at 5480 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase for a fire on the 7th floor. Dozens of firefighters responded to the two-alarm fire. Several people were rescued and many others were assisted from the high-rise building by firefighters, an elderly resident succumbed to her injuries and died. Fire Investigators believe the cause of the fire was accidental and caused by smoking materials. She was the fourth (4th) residential fire fatality of the year in Montgomery County. Damage was estimated to be $10,000.
The next day, shortly afternoon on November 25, 2006 firefighters were called to the 8100 block of Crabapple Lane, in Emory Grove for a fire in a townhouse. An improperly discarded cigarette caused a fire in a basement bedroom that resulted in over $30,000 dollars in damage and sent three persons to the hospital. Several days later, on November 27, 2006 a house fire in Glen Echo Heights on Wiscasset Road resulted in over $400,000 dollars in damage. A family of 5 was displaced.
On November 28, 2006 a kitchen fire in a 9th floor apartment at the Charter House Apartments located at 1316 Fenwick Lane, in Silver Spring was extinguished by the activation of a residential sprinkler. There were no injuries and damage was minimal. On the following day, November 29, 2006 a broken seal on a water pump supplying the domestic water at the Charter House failed and resulted in a significant water leak and flood. The fire department coordinated the evacuation of hundreds of residents whom were displaced by the affected shut down of the building’s utilities.
And during the first week of December several fires in Rockville, Silver Spring and Gaithersburg have kept firefighters more than busy, displaced several families and resulted in nearly $4 million dollars in damage.
Most recently, on Wednesday, December 6, 2006 about 75 firefighters responded to 11,351 Morning Gate Drive, at the Fallstone Townhouses, in Rockville. Improperly placed fireplace ashes caused a townhouse fire that resulted in 5 families being displaced and resulted in nearly $2 million dollars in damage. On Monday, December 4, 2006 a car crashed into a building at 241 Congressional Lane, in Rockville that resulted in a 3-Alarm building fire. Several residents were injured. Damage was estimated to be over $1.8 million dollars. About 12 people were displaced.
Again, the cold weather months are typically the busiest. So far, December 2006 is no exception:
Summary of recent significant responses:
- 11/24 - 5480 Wisconsin Av., high-rise apartment fire, one fatality, $10,000 damage
- 11/25 – 8120 Crabapple Lane, fire in Townhouse, several injured, $30,000 damage
- 11/27 – 6208 Wiscasset Rd., house fire, $400,000 damage
- 11/28 - 1316 Fenwick Lane, kitchen fire, sprinkler activation, minimal damage, no injuries
- 11/29 -1316 Fenwick Lane, water leak, building evacuated, over 100 people displaced
- 11/30 - 4801 Edgemore La., restaurant fire, $30,000 damage
- 12/1 - 6904 Marbury Rd., workers overcome by CO, rescued
- 12/1 - K-Mart, Connecticut Av., closed for numerous fire code violations
- 12/3 - Viers Mill Rd at Clairidge Rd., fatal pedestrian struck
- 12/3 - 8100 blk Georgia Av, double fatal car wreck, several others injured
- 12/4 - 214 Congressional La, 3-alarm building fire, injured, $1.8 million damage, 12 displaced
- 12/4 - 14703 Avery Rd., set fire, $500 damage, one arrest
- 12/4 - 13200 Whitechurch Cir, electrical problem, $5,000 damage, 40 displaced
- 12/4 - 10202 Tenbrook Dr., house fire, $200,000 damage, 3 displaced
- 12/5 – Viers Mill Rd and Robindale Dr., school bus involved crash, numerous injuries
- 12/5 – 10,600 Woodsdale Dr., large brush fire, dozens of firefighters busy for several hours
- 12/5 – 240 W. Deer Park Rd., 2-Alarm townhouse fire, $100,000 damage, several displaced
- 12/6 – 11,351 Morning Gate Dr., 2-Alarm townhouse fire, $1.9 million damage, 9 displaced
Recent fires have often been the result of food left cooking unwatched, candles left burning unattended, combustibles too close to a heating system, discarded smoking materials, misplaced fireplace ashes and a malfunction with heating systems. Dried out Christmas trees could pose an additional fire hazard this time of year, too. Improperly discarded smoking materials and careless smoking have been the primary cause of this year’s fire deaths. Many of these fires can be prevented.
It is important that all residents know to have a working smoke alarm on each level of a home, have an escape plan (know how to get out quickly) and call the fire department from a safe area, preferably a neighbor’s house.
Dangerous time of year –
- The few days prior to Christmas and the day after (December 24 thru December 26), according to the United States Fire Administration, deaths, injuries and fire loss increase an average 50% (more deaths), 61% (more injuries) and 43% (more damage).
- It is estimated that there are Christmas trees in over one-third of all households at this time of year. These fires cause an annual national average of 250 injuries and 40 fatalities.
- The typical ignition scenario involves shorted electrical lights or exposure to an open flame, such as a candle.
- Cooking and kitchen fires are often the result of the cook being inattentive or distracted.
Fire Safety Tips –
- Extinguish all candles when leaving a room or going to sleep. Keep candles well away from items that can catch fire, such as flammable decorations, clothing, books, paper, curtains, etc.
- Keep candles up high, out of reach, and where they can not be knocked over by children or pets. Remember: A candle is an open flame. It can easily ignite any combustible nearby!
- Be careful with discarded smoking materials. Place ashes in receptacles.
- Do not smoke if drowsy.
- Remember never discard hot fireplace ashes inside or near the home. Place them in a metal container outside and well away from the house and all other combustibles.
- Give space heaters space. Keep young children safely away from space heaters -- especially when they are wearing nightgowns or other loose clothing that can be easily ignited.
- If you use an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit. If you must use an extension cord, only use extension cords which have the necessary rating to carry the amp load.
- Keep Christmas tree away from any heat source, ie. fireplaces, space heaters, heat vents, etc. Keep tree container full of water.
- Do a safety check before going to bed.
- Always Remember! If a fire starts in your home GET 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! GET OUT – STAY OUT!