A Kentland, Maryland tower-ladder tipped over and sustained major damage Monday morning while en route to an explosion at a townhouse, officials said.
A full box alarm was dispatched at 11:30 a.m. to New Oak Lane in Bowie after an explosion blew out the walls and windows of one townhome's second floor, said Prince Georges County Fire Department spokesman Mark Brady. "It appears to be a drug lab gone bad," he said.
Kentland VFD Station 33 was responding as second-due ladder. As the tower-ladder approached the scene of the explosion, it made a left turn just two blocks from the incident. As it turned the vehicle tipped over and impacted with a utility pole.
Brady said the cause of the accident is under investigation, and did not know the speed the vehicle was traveling. "That's all part of the investigation and it's ongoing," the spokesman said. "It's much too early to speculate on the cause of the accident." Photos of the accident taken by NBC4 News show skidmarks where the tower-ladder rounded the corner.
There were five firefighters on board. "They were obvioulsy shaken up," Brady said. "None appear to have suffered any type of injury, which in itself is amazing." Brady said a few of the firefighters were transported to Prince Georges Hospital Center for evaluation, even though the firefighters felt it was unnecessary.
"We're very fortunate everybody was able to walk away without sustaining some type of injury," Brady said. He said it is also fortunate that at such a busy intersection, no other vehicles or pedestrians were involved in the incident.
The vehicle, a 1994 tower-ladder FWD, sustained significant damage and is most likely totaled, Brady said. The replacement cost will be in the range of $600,000 to $700,000.
Monday afternoon, firefighters were working with BG&E to figure out how to safely remove the vehicle from the scene, because the utility pole had snapped in half and was resting on top of the truck.
Brady said the vehicle accident did not have any effect on the townhouse fire. Bowie firefighters knocked the fire down in 20 minutes with about 30 firefighters and paramedics on scene from four engine companies, two ladder trucks, a rescue truck and a Battalion Chief.
Brady said the explosion caused about $100,000 of damage but did not destroy the homes on either side. The incident is under investigation by fire and narcotics officials.
Brady said the loss of the tower-ladder will impact the area until it is replaced, because the Kentland VFD Station 33 is one of the top responding fire stations in the county.
Brady said the incident exemplifies the dangers of the job. "It really does touch a nerve with the firefighters to have an accident like this occur," he said.