NEW CARROLLTON, Md. — A home in New Carrollton went up in flames on Saturday evening and has left five people displaced and one adult dead, fire officials said. Prince George's County Police is opening an investigation.
At 6:15 p.m, the Prince George's County Fire Department was called to the 6400 block of Inlet Street in New Carrollton, where a house was engulfed in flames.
Upon arrival, firefighters were able to rescue a 40-year-old female and a 25-year-old male from where they were trapped in the basement of the home. Both adults were taken to a nearby hospital, where one remains in life-threatening injuries.
Fire officials said the 40-year-old female succumbed to her injuries and has been pronounced dead. Fire officials said one firefighter was also taken to the hospital for injury evaluation.
In a statement from the Prince George's County Fire Fighters, IAFF 1619, they said the first arriving units were delayed.
"The closes three firehouses were out of service due to no staffing and unavailable service at the time of this house fire," a statement from Vice President Grant Walker said.
PGFD announced Sunday they have opened an internal review into staffing needs.
"We are doing an internal review of how we utilize staffing it within the agency we are looking at the at the challenge with the volunteer corporations that are that are struggling to maintain membership," PGFD Deputy Chief Brian Frankel said Sunday.
The department said they have a response goal of 5 minutes and 20 seconds for the first unit to arrive. They said in a statement Sunday that the first unit arrived in seven minutes. The statement said they also strive to have 15 firefighters on scene within 12 minutes. They said in this case, 15 firefighters were on scene in 12 minutes.
Prince George's County Fire Fighters, IAFF 1619 President Andrew Pantelis said Sunday the response time could have been lower had the first agency assigned to respond was available.
“If we had an opportunity to have crews arrive on scene in a timely fashion, this incident could have a much different outcome,” Pantelis said. "Look at Google Maps, your first company, which failed compared to the fourth Company that arrived, there's over a four-minute difference in the drive time."
He also said the union doesn't have a problem with the fire department leadership or the county, but the private volunteer fire departments. Pantelis said the county has previously attempted to put career staffing in at least one of the volunteer stations.
"And since it's a private corporation that's owned by the volunteers it's their building they have refused on multiple occasions," Pantelis said. "So every single weekend they're gambling with people's lives, whether they're making it out the door to respond to emergencies. and this one resulted in an even greater tragedy.”
Officials believe the fire broke out in the basement of the home and that the fire spread quickly to the first floor. Mike Yourishin, a spokesperson for Prince George's Fire, said the flames displaced five other adults and that the Red Cross is currently assisting in their relocation. Yourishin said some of the adults are related, but not all of them are.
Neighbor Ricardo Vasquez lives across the street from where the fire broke out and said he saw the flames vividly from his front window.
"I checked out the front window and I just saw that the house across the street is on fire, and it’s just unbelievable to me," Vasquez said. "I’ve been living here for 14 years, and when you lose your house you don’t just lose your house, you lose all the memories that go with it. It’s just crazy to me."
James Woods lives around the corner from the fire and said he knows some of the victims involved.
"I knew who it was, and it’s like you don’t want to see that," Woods said. "You don’t want to see somebody’s house get burnt down and all that, especially when it's someone you know."
Fire officials are still investigating what caused the flames to break out.
In the meantime, New Carrollton Police Chief, David Rice, said they're just hoping to make sure everyone else is okay.
"We’re all family, so we’ll do the best we can to take care of all of them," he said.