MD Firefighters Faced Challenges Tackling Multi-Alarm Building Fire

Aug. 25, 2022
Firefighters found heavy fire showing from the rear of a building in downtown Frederick.

Firefighters faced a number of challenges as they battled a three-alarm fire in downtown Frederick Wednesday night.

As they approached the scene on West Second Street, firefighters observed heavy fire in the rear of the three-story building. They immediately called for the RIT as they had second and third-floor apartments above a business.

Within minutes, the incident commander requested a second-alarm assignment.

Three of the four apartments were occupied, and residents made it out OK, Frederick County Fire Chief Tom Coe said Thursday morning, adding that crews entered the building quickly to conduct searches.

"It was a very difficult one. Firefighters encountered several layers of ceiling and roof. It's a very old building and the fire was spreading through voids," he explained.

Radio traffic from the scene indicated the smoke would dissipate, but only briefly. It was apparent the flames were traveling. "It was important to open things up, but that wasn't easy."

Firefighters were evacuated from the roof when it was determined there was an integrity issue. After an interior attack for a time, crews also were ordered to leave the building. Three master streams were then established.

Command deemed the fire under control after four hours. However, crews remained on the scene for an extended period hitting hotspots and performing overhaul.

Two firefighters were evaluated on the scene for exhaustion but were not transported.

"It was a very labor-intensive fire because of those vacant spaces. We did a lot of rotations," the chief said, adding that the extra alarms brought firefighters from around the county as well as Washington and Montgomery counties.

Eight residents were displaced, and are being assisted by the Red Cross. Several birds were saved. However, a cat, two rats and a pet snake perished. 

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. 

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