MCFRS News Release

Fatal Rockville Apartment Fire

Rockville man dies, three firefighters injured and several residents rescued in early morning building fire

One apartment resident is dead, three firefighters have received serious injuries and several occupants needed rescue in an early morning fire.

Just before 1 a.m. on Saturday, May 3, 2008 units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service were dispatched for the report of a building fire in the 12,800 block of Twinbrook Parkway, at the Halpine Apartments, in Rockville. Moment's later first arriving personnel and equipment encountered heavy fire conditions coming from the second and third floors of a 3-story garden style apartment building located at 12,819 Twinbrook Parkway.

As firefighters arrived some positioned themselves to initiate obvious rescues, while others began an aggressive fire attack in the structure. Additional units were requested to respond. Eventually a 3rd Alarm was dispatched bringing about 100 firefighters to the scene.

Within the first 5-10 minutes of arriving, and during firefighting and initial rescue operations, it is believed that a catastrophic floor collapse occurred sending two of three firefighting crew members from the third level into the seat of the fire on the second floor (the area of origin). A 'Mayday' distress (firefighter down) signal was immediately activated while the two firefighters immediately sought refuge by jumping through a second floor window, landing on the ground below. In doing so they sustained serious injuries. The third firefighter was able to self-rescue through the interior to the outside.

At about the same time rescues were being made by other crews who located a victim in a second floor apartment, near the front door. He was removed, but succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead on the scene. He is being identified as Timothy Moran, age 50. Mr. Moran was the single occupant of the second floor apartment. Fire and Explosive Investigators believe this is where the fire originated. One other resident was rescued and transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. A total of four residents were rescued by firefighters.

Fire Captain/Paramedic R. Dwayne Dutrow, age 38, a 17 year veteran, was flown to the MedStar Burn Unit at Washington Hospital Center. His injuries are serious, but not life threatening. Firefighter James Heikka, age 31, an 8 year veteran was also flown to the MedStar Burn Unit. His injuries are serious, but not life threatening. Both are being admitted. Firefighters Mark Mechlin, is in his 20's and has been with the MCFRS for about one year. He was transported by a medic unit to the MedStar Burn Unit. His injuries were less serious and he is expected to be treated and released.

Montgomery County Fire and Explosive Investigators believe the fire originated in the bedroom of a second floor apartment. The cause of the fire appears to be accidental, but remains under investigation. It is also believed that the fire was in an advanced stage upon arrival and had possibly burned undetected for a significant period of time. The placement and operation of the second floor apartment's smoke alarm(s) is unknown. Damage is estimated to be $1.1 million, including $1 million to the structure and $100,000 to the contents.

Montgomery County Fire and Explosive Investigators were assisted by detectives, technicians and patrol officers with the Montgomery County Department of Police.

The Red Cross is working with Grady Management to relocate displaced residents and provide shelter and other comfort needs. Occupants from approximately 20 apartment units will be displaced. A Red Cross shelter has been activated at the former Broome Middle School located at 751 Twinbrook Parkway, Rockville. Several dozen people are utilizing the shelter.

Mr. Moran is Montgomery County's third residential fire fatality of the year.