Essex residents forced out by fire

Wind-whipped blaze at apartment building injures 2 firefighters

January 22, 2000|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Freezing temperatures and harsh winds slowed firefighting efforts yesterday at an Essex apartment house where a four-alarm blaze injured two firefighters and forced several residents from their homes.

More than 100 Baltimore County firefighters fought the fire that began at 2: 08 p.m. on the roof of an apartment building in the Queens Purchase complex in the 1100 block of Gelmsford Road. It took firefighters more than an hour to bring the blaze under control.

"There was difficulty because the water was icing up immediately," said Battalion Chief Mark Hubbard, a county Fire Department spokesman. "The wind also helped to push the fire under the roof and made it flame up in firefighters' faces."

Capt. Clyde Heath, 49, of Golden Ring Fire Company suffered minor injuries when the wind blew a ladder over and it struck his head. He was treated at Franklin Square Hospital and released, Hubbard said. A firefighter from Hyde Park Volunteer Fire Company, whose name was not available, was treated at Franklin Square for exhaustion and released.

Two tenants were helped out of the building by firefighters. One, who lived on the second floor, smelled smoke, then saw smoke coming from under a door on the third floor and called 911, Hubbard said. When firefighters arrived, Hubbard said, flames were shooting through the roof.

The fire caused an estimated $250,000 in damage and burned through plywood roofing material, leaving four apartments exposed to the elements. The cause is being investigated.

"All 12 units in the building are uninhabitable," Hubbard said.

The Red Cross provided the 16 people displaced by the fire with food and vouchers for clothing, bedding and furnishings, a spokeswoman said. The families are in hotels until they can be placed in vacant apartments, she said.

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