Three Rescued From District Heights Apartment Building Fire

Prince Georges County Fire Department Press Release

Just after 4:00 PM, Monday, August 29, 2005, Prince George’s County Firefighters and Paramedics were alerted for an apartment fire in District Heights. Fire/EMS units responded to 6944 Walker Mill Road with the first engine to arrive finding a four-story apartment building with smoke coming from a second floor unit.

Maintenance workers from the Capital Courts Apartment Complex told firefighters that a family of three was trapped inside the burning apartment. Fire Lieutenant John Keller and his crew from Engine 261 – District Heights, advanced hose lines and initiated an immediate search and rescue of the three-bedroom apartment for the trapped occupants.

Visibility inside was zero as thick smoke and intense heat filled the apartment. As crewmembers started to extinguish the fire, Fire Lieutenant Keller located a 4-year-old male in a bedroom and removed him to safety.

As Lt. Keller was exiting the apartment, Fire Captain Jeff Vogts and crewmembers from Truck 5 – Capitol Heights, entered the apartment to search for additional victims. With the assistance of a Thermal Imaging Camera, Fire Captain Vogts located a 2-year-old female in another bedroom. The child appeared to be in need of fresh air and without hesitation Fire Captain Vogts removed his face piece and placed it over the face of the young child providing a fresh blast of air. This child was then removed from the apartment.

Within seconds, additional firefighters located and removed a 22-year-old female from the burning apartment. The 22-year-old mother and her two children were evaluated and treated by paramedics on the scene and then transported to area hospitals for treatment of smoke inhalation. These injuries were serious, however, did not appear to be life threatening.

Firefighters completed the extinguishment of the fire and were able to contain the fire damage to the apartment of origin. There were no additional injuries. The fire started in the kitchen and appears to be accidental, the investigation, however, is ongoing. Fire loss is estimated at $35,000 to the building and contents. Apartment complex management is assisting the displaced occupants of two apartments with vacant units inside the complex.

COUNTY EXECUTIVE COMMENDS FIRE FIGHTERS WHO SAVED DISTRICT HEIGHTS FAMILY

Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson today commended fire fighters who saved a family of three from a burning apartment building in District Heights yesterday.

“I want to personally commend the brave men from Engine 261 – District Heights and Truck 5 – Capitol Heights for their heroic actions yesterday,” Johnson said. “Because of their efforts, a family was safely reunited and three young lives were saved.”

Johnson also thanked all the men and women of the Prince George’s Fire/EMS Department for the work they do every day that keeps the citizens of this county safe and he pledged his continuing support to the department.

During his three years in office, Johnson has shown a strong commitment to the department, increasing their budget from $65 million to just over $87 million. This year, he also raised the department’s authorized strength of sworn personnel from 696 to 722.

“The men and women of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department have a difficult and often dangerous job,” Johnson said. “I am committed to continuing to provide the department with all the resources they need to not only save the lives of our citizens, but to make sure that they can do so in a manner that provides for their safety as well.”

Shortly after 4 p.m., firefighters arrived at the scene of a fire in the Capitol Courts Apartment Complex on Walker Mill Road. They were told that a family was trapped inside the burning building.

Firefighters began an immediate search and rescue of the apartment, where visibility was zero due to thick smoke and intense heat inside.

Lt. John Keller located a 4-year old boy inside and quickly removed him to safety. At the same time, Capt. Jeff Vogts and crewmembers from Truck 5 – Capitol Heights, entered the apartment to search for additional victims.

With the assistance of a Thermal Imaging Camera, Vogts located a 2-year old girl in the bedroom. The child appeared to be in need of oxygen, so Vogts removed his mask and placed it over the child’s face to give her a breath of fresh air.

Additional firefighters located the children’s mother seconds later and brought her to safety as well. All three victims were treated at the scene and then transported to a local hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Today, Johnson commended those men for the heroism and bravery they showed by putting their lives at risk to save the lives of three Prince George’s County citizens.