MCFRS News Release

Mother Succumbs to Injuries - Recent Fire's 4th Victim

Four Victims Rescued by Firefighters on June 28 - Three Children Died at Hospitals

Around 4:45 a.m. on Thursday, June 28, 2007 units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service were dispatched for smoke coming from a building at 13,820 Castle Boulevard, at the Windsor Court Apartments, in Burtonsville.

Four occupants of a ground level apartment were rescued by firefighters. Three (3) children succumbed to their injuries and died at local hospitals that day. Their mother remained in critical condition on life support systems until she died at a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland on Wednesday morning, July 11, 2007.

Elsie Nuka (Foncham), age 30, was initially transported to Holy Cross Hospital, in Silver Spring. She was transferred to the University of Maryland, Shock Trauma Unit, in Baltimore later that day on June 28, 2007. She was treated for smoke inhalation and was on life support systems until the time of her death. Ms. Elsie Nuka is Montgomery County's eighth (8th) residential fire fatality of the year (2007).

Fire Investigators believe the fire was accidental and originated in the kitchen and was caused by combustibles too close to a heat source. It is believed that the smoke alarm activated. It is possible they were unable to exit through the hallway past the intense heat and smoke. Several neighbors called 911 reporting smoke and/or the alarm sounding. The victim's were all found unconscious and not breathing in the bedroom. Although the building was not required to have sprinklers, Fire Investigators believe residential fire sprinklers would have extinguished the fire, or controlled it enough where the occupants could have escaped.

Chanelle Foncham, age 4, was transported to Holy Cross Hospital, in Silver Spring. Megan Foncham, age 2, was transported to Greater Laurel Beltsville Hospital, in Laurel and 6 month old MaKenzie was transported to Children's National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. by medevac helicopter. The children succumbed to their injuries and were pronounced dead at the hospitals. They died from smoke inhalation.

Upon arrival, firefighters quickly located a fire in the kitchen of a terrace level, 2-bedroom apartment. Moments later firefighters found four (4) victims in a nearby bedroom. All victims, one adult and three children were found unconscious and not breathing. They were rescued by firefighters and removed to the outside to awaiting medical providers.

Prior to this incident, which occurred on June 28, 2007, there had been four residential fire fatalities this year in Montgomery County, all four involved senior citizens. This quadruple fatal residential fire involving three children and one adult is the worst multiple fire fatality since January 2002 when a family of four, two adults and two children were killed in an accidental fire in Gaithersburg.