GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Nearly 100 firefighters were called to a blaze Wednesday morning at a townhouse in Gaithersburg, where people were reportedly trapped in the basement.
Emergency crews were called to the scene at West Deer Park Road in Gaithersburg just before 4 a.m., Pete Piringer, Public Information Officer for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services, said in a tweet. Responding firefighters found heavy fire coming from the townhome when they arrived on the scene, Piringer said.
Given the intensity of the fire, a second alarm was called to get the flames under control.
Piringer tweeted that people were reportedly trapped in the basement of the 3-story townhouse. He said that they have all been accounted for and there are no injuries.
A family told us that they were sleeping when the fire happened and were able to safely evacuate as they noticed the fire.
"My son come and mom get out here the house is on fire. I was in the living room and my daughter and brother upstairs, I want them to come. I went to call them.. finally, we don't find my brother, I was so worried for him, and the smoke already, we cannot see. I will still say, we no lost anything, we are here, we are alive," the resident told us.
Firefighters evacuated neighboring townhouses while working to extinguish the flames.
West Deer Park Road was closed between Frederick Road and Muddy Branch Road because of the fire activity, Piringer said. It has since reopened.
The cause of this fire is not yet known, but Piringer said in a tweet that extension cords, power strips and aluminum wiring were found throughout the home.
In all, families in six townhomes were displaced in the fire. A pet dog was found dead.
A Montgomery County Ride-On bus was being used for the people that are evacuated so that they aren't outside in the cold temps.
Fire crews across the DMV are urging safety during the cold winter months, telling everyone to not leave space heaters, fireplaces or candles unattended. An apartment fire in Silver Spring over the weekend displaced 50 people and was reportedly caused by an unattended candle.
“When it gets cold outside, we really do see an uptick in fires in the community," D.C. Fire Marshal Mitchell Kannry said. "Residents are using space heaters or other heating sources and those can be really dangerous.”
D.C.'s fire marshal and Montgomery County's fire chief said there are simple ways to protect yourself:
- Keep a minimum of three feet of space around space heaters
- Plug space heaters directly into a wall, never a power strip or extension cord
- Make sure that alternative heat sources are unplugged and off whenever you leave the room they're in
- Do not use your oven or stove to heat your home, because that creates carbon monoxide
- Ensure adequate ventilation when using a fireplace or woodstove