Firefighters throughout Montgomery County were kept busy on Sunday, December 16, 2007 as the Washington metropolitan area was under a wind advisory.
Starting about 4:30 p.m. units were dispatched all across the area. There were many reports of wires down, transformer fires and trees on houses and across roads.
At one time or another during the early evening practically all fire and rescue units were sent to handle emergency calls throughout the County.
Around 6:30 p.m. units were dispatched for the report of smoke coming from an apartment at 3926 Blackburn Lane, in Burtonsville.
Firefighters arrived on the scene at the Blackburn Apartments to find fire and smoke coming from a 3rd floor apartment. The wind driven, natural gas fed fire extended to the upper floors.
A precautionary 2nd Alarm brought about 85 firefighters from Montgomery County, Prince George's County and Howard County to the scene. There were no injuries.
Firefighters were on the scene for several hours. Fire and Explosive Investigators believe the fire originated in the wall/ceiling of an apartment on the second floor and burned up through a vertical void space to the third floor and then on to the forth floor.
The fire also burned through the floor of the third floor apartment, allowing fire to extend into the utility room and ultimately into the kitchen area. The cause was accidental and electrical in nature.
It is believed that repeated contact between an electrical wire and the heated vent duct from the dryer caused a failure of the insulation on the wire which allowed bare wire to contact the metal duct and created an arc.
Sixteen (16) apartments were affected by the fire, displacing about 40 persons and several pets. Damage is estimated to be $1 million dollars, including $750,000 to the structure and $250,000 to the contents.
Firefighters from the Silver Spring area were dispatched to another fire about 6:45 p.m. at 520 University Boulevard East. First arriving firefighters encountered a fire in a 2-story garage near a house. Fire Fighters were able to keep the wind blown fire from extending to the occupied house. All occupants were safely evacuated.
It was later discovered that the nearby home had multiple residents and no smoke alarms. Firefighters installed several and the occupants were able to return. Damage to the garage structure is estimated to be $75,000.
There were no injuries and the cause is under investigation, but appears to be accidental.
Firefighters were called to another fire in a building around 7:30 p.m. at 11550 Stewart Lane, at the Montgomery White Oak Apartments. An activated sprinkler controlled the fire at a hi-rise apartment building in the garage level lobby. Some debris had been set on fire which caused considerable smoke to fill parts of the building.
All residents were allowed to reoccupy their apartments after the smoke had been cleared. There were no injuries. Damage was estimated to be less than $1000.
About an hour or so later, around 8:45 p.m., units were dispatched for a fire in an apartment at 14911 McKisson Court, in the Layhill area.
Firefighters arrived to find kitchen fire in a second floor unit that had been contained by a activated sprinkler system. A 29 year old female from that apartment had been cooking when a fire started on the stove top. She attempted to move the flaming pot and received burns to her hand.
She was transported to an area hospital with minor burns. Another resident from an apartment above the fire was transported to a local hospital for exposure to smoke. Damage was estimated to be $15,000.
The weather directly and indirectly resulted in an increase of activity throughout Montgomery County on Sunday afternoon, December 17, 2007. During a five hour period between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. the Fire and Rescue personnel handled about 200 calls for service or about one call every two or three minutes.