More Than 100 People Displaced by Series of Fires Over Cold Holiday Weekend
Fire department spokesman says number of fires “almost unprecedented”
A firefighter sprays water on flames coming from a house on Outpost Drive in North Potomac on Saturday.
Via Pete Piringer
A spate of fires over the cold holiday weekend left more than 100 people displaced from their homes and caused more than $2 million in damage, a fire department spokesman said.
Firefighters responded to more than 16 fires from Thursday night to Monday. Several of the incidents were serious enough to raise multiple alarms or require backup rescue crews.
Fire emergencies typically increase during the winter, because people are inside and because of alternative heating systems and low humidity, but Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service spokesman Pete Piringer called the number of fires “almost unprecedented” even for colder months.
A few fires this weekend were the result of furnace or fireplace problems, or wrongly placed ashes, he said.
Despite the number of emergencies, only one person was injured. Firefighters rescued a woman from a home on Dennis Avenue in Silver Spring on Sunday evening after a cause that might have been related to smoking materials, according to Piringer.
Several firefighters were injured, largely during bigger apartment fires in Gaithersburg and Aspen Hill.
“The amazing thing is in those big fires where the conditions were very icy and cold, there were no civilian injuries,” he said.
On Thursday night, a fire at the Crystal Spring Apartments on Georgia Avenue in Aspen Hill caused 60 people to evacuate and left more than 30 displaced. The two-alarm fire brought more than 100 firefighters to the scene in the “bitter cold,” Piringer said, and caused about $500,000 in damage.
Early Saturday morning, a fire broke out in a condominium building on Quince Orchard Boulevard in Gaithersburg. The flames, which officials say likely were accidental, spread from the attic to condos below, leaving 39 adults and 22 kids displaced and causing $450,000 in damage.
Residents of a house on Outpost Drive in Potomac had cleared out ashes from the fireplace Saturday, but left the ashes in a plastic bag in the house, which caused a fire that afternoon. It resulted in about $250,000 in damages and left a family of four displaced.
An electrical wire overheated and caught nearby combustibles on fire at a townhouse on Centerway Road in Gaithersburg on Saturday afternoon, displacing two adults and causing $50,000 in damage.
An automatic fire alarm alerted firefighters to a house on Earlsgate Lane in North Bethesda Saturday evening, and about 75 firefighters extinguished a fire that started in the basement near a gas furnace. It caused about $300,000 in damage and displaced two people.
A fire on Larkmeade Lane in Potomac on Saturday evening caused about $1 million in damage, including $200,000 in the contents of the house and $700,000 to the structure. The two residents, who were not home at the time, were displaced.
About 75 firefighters responded to a house on Dodie Terrace in Darnestown on Sunday morning brought. The family of four got out safely, and firefighters rescued two missing cats from under a couch and under a set of stairs.
At about 9 p.m. Monday, a fire spread from the basement of a house on Brushwood Terrace in Potomac and displaced a family of two adults, three kids and a dog. It caused about $500,000 in damage.
Officials believe the fire started below the fireplace, which was being used for the first time this season, according to Piringer.
Other fires occurred on Lyttonsville Road and Gatewood Terrace in Silver Spring, Mount Prospect Drive in Potomac, Russell Avenue in Gaithersburg, Parkwood Drive in Kensington and Glennon Drive in Bethesda.
American Red Cross volunteers assisted more than 170 people in the region—including Washington, D.C., and Virigina—over the weekend. Spokeswoman Rebekah Jastremski said volunteers provided shelter, food and other assistance to more than 50 residents from the condo fire on Quince Orchard Boulevard as well as to the single families from Dodie Terrace, Centerway Road and Outpost Drive.