Maryland Firefighters Tackle Condo Three-Alarmer

Firefighters evacuated as many as 20 people from their condominiums because of a three-alarm fire at the height of Thursday night's strong thunderstorms and winds.

Nancy McDade said she heard lightning strike, then 10 minutes later, she smelled smoke. When she looked outside, she saw the flames.

"Lightning -- you could hear it. It came right through the house, you could hear lightning. We heard it, it made a loud boom," McDade said.

Baltimore County firefighters evacuated two attached buildings at the Chapel Village Condominiums. A majority of those evacuated included senior citizens; all got out safely. Firefighters went into many of the units to get medicine for those displaced.

The lightning struck shortly after 6:30 p.m. Fire officials deemed the storm intense and ordered firefighters to fight the blaze from the ground instead of from their ladders.

"The fire did ultimately go to three alarms, mainly for backup to keep our crews from being exhausted," Baltimore County fire Capt. Glenn Blackwell said.

"It was very scary because you just don't know. You're thinking everything you own is going up, but thank goodness we're safe, that is the most important thing," McDade said.

Two firefighters needed medical treatment for injuries that were not life-threatening. Fire officials said the blaze caused $800,000 worth of damage.

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