In Maryland on Tuesday, May 22, at 2256 hours, numerous 9-1-1 phone calls began pouring into fire communications advising that a building was on fire at the intersection of West Forest Road and Vermont Avenue. Engine 331, Engine 332, Tower Ladder 33 and A/Chief 33 (Kelleher) with 14 volunteers responded toward the reported location.
Chief 33 arrived in the area first with smoke issuing from the rear of an apartment house. At that time, a corrected address of 6807 West Forest Road was now being reported. Chief 33 confirmed the corrected address and reported fire showing from the first floor side-D, and people trapped on the third floor. Engine 331 quickly arrived and stretched the 250-foot pre-connect to the front doorway of the involved apartment.
Meanwhile, the crew of Tower Ladder 33 took out a security fence and placed ground ladders to the third floor. Squadsman Nicholas Romanchick scaled one of the ladders to a third floor apartment and removed one adult and two children from their smoke filled apartment.
The three citizens were evaluated by Kentland and Bladensburg volunteers before being treated by other EMS personnel.
Engine 332's crew stretched a line to the floor above and checked for extension. After the removal of the occupants from the third floor, all searches proved negative.
The fire was quickly knocked, and contained to the apartment of origin. Numerous PPV and negative pressure fans were used to remove the large amount of smoke throughout the building. Approx. 15 minutes into the incident command held Engine 331, Engine 332, Tower Ladder 33 and Truck Co. 9. Volunteers from Kentland Fire Station 33 returned home at 0006 hours. Chief 33 had the "West Forest" command.
While Chief 33 made sure that the rescued occupants were OK after a medical check-up, the mother and children gave their account of the frantic times they faced during the initial stages of the apartment fire.
The mother stated that she heard the fire alarm and tried exiting via the interior stairwell. As she opened her apartment door, heavy smoke came rolling in causing her to gasp for air. She located her two children and made their way to a bedroom window. She stated that "she was so glad to see the firemen". As Squadsman Romanchick scaled the ladder, she (the mother) literally threw her one child down to his arms. The mother and children expressed their sincere thanks to the Kentland volunteers.