MCFRS News Release

Three Children in Critical Condition After Being Rescued from a Bethesda House Fire

Father and Two Firefighters also Transported to Hospital

Around 1:25 P.M on Wednesday, December 3, 2008 units from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service were dispatched for the report of a fire at a house located at 4806 Jamestown Road, near Worthington Drive, in Bethesda.  First arriving fire fighters encountered heavy smoke coming from the rear of the house.

A resident of the house called 911 to report a hot tub on fire with extension to the rear of the house.  It is believed that another adult occupant, a caretaker (Nanny), had exited the house to visit with a family member when she noticed smoke and fire outside and in the rear of the house.  She immediately entered the house to alert other occupants.  Upon being made aware of the fire in the rear of the house the father initially used a nearby garden hose in an attempt to extinguish the fire.  While doing so, he called 911 at which time he attempted to renter the house to assist his three children who were sleeping upstairs.  Due to the extreme heat and thickening smoke, he was unable to retrieve them.
Moments later firefighters arrived and were made aware of the three boy’s location in an upstairs bedroom.  Crews of firefighters and rescuers reached the three children in their upstairs bedroom within minutes.  All were found in their cribs.  Rescuers exited the house with the children in hand to awaiting medical workers outside.  All three, two and half year old boys (triplets) were transported to Children’s national Medical Center in Washington, D.C. in critical condition.  Two firefighters were injured, with steam burns, during the rescue attempt.  They were transported to the MedStar Burn Unit at the Washington Hospital Center, in Washington, D.C.  The father was also injured in his attempt to rescue his children.  He was transported in serious condition to the MedStar Burn Unit, as well.

Fire and Explosive Investigators from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service believe the fire was accidental.  The fire appears to have originated near the hot tub in the rear of the house.  The cause of the fire is electrical in nature and more than likely was due to a failure of electrical components associated with the hot tub.  Nearby combustibles overheated and caught on fire.  The fire extended from the exterior to inside the house via several windows, as well as an attached wood frame porch. It is believed the fire smoldered and burned undetected for an extended period before being detected by the Nanny.
Damage is estimated at $500,000.  The family will be displaced.  Two family pet dogs also are believed to have survived, however one is unaccounted for.  The house did not have smoke alarms.

There are time-tested ways to prevent and survive a fire.

Every Home Should Have at Least One Working Smoke Alarm
Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home. A working smoke alarm can double your chances of survival. Test it monthly, keep it free of dust and replace the battery at least once a year. Smoke alarms themselves should be replaced after ten years of service, or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Prevent Electrical Fires
Never overload circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high traffic areas. Immediately shut off and unplug appliances that sputter, spark or emit an unusual smell. Have them professionally repaired or replaced.

Use Appliances Wisely
When using appliances follow the manufacturer's safety precautions. Overheating, unusual smells, shorts and sparks are all warning signs that appliances need to be shut off, then replaced or repaired. Unplug appliances when not in use. Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.

Affordable Home Fire Safety Sprinklers
When home fire sprinklers are used with working smoke alarms, your chances of surviving a fire are greatly increased. Sprinklers are affordable - they can increase property value and lower insurance rates. 

Plan Your Escape
Practice an escape plan from every room in the house. Caution everyone to stay low to the floor when escaping from fire and never to open doors that are hot. Select a location where everyone can meet after escaping the house. Get out then call for help.

For a free home safety evaluation in Montgomery County call the Home Safety hotline at 240.777.2476 to schedule a time.