Arundel apartment blaze injures firefighter, 5 others

60 residents evacuated

2 leap from windows

January 22, 2000|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Six people, including one firefighter, suffered injuries early yesterday when a three-alarm fire broke out in a Glen Burnie apartment building, forcing the evacuation of 60 of the complex's residents and prompting two to leap out of third-floor windows to escape the flames.

Karen Rogers, 44, suffered possible back and shoulder injuries when she jumped 20 to 30 feet to the ground from apartment C-1 of the building in the 6900 block of Glen Ridge Circle in the Glen Ridge Apartments community, fire officials said. Officials said the fire started in the kitchen of that unit.

Rogers was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she was treated and released.

Andrew C. Cornelius, 30, one of 50 firefighters who responded to the 3 a.m. blaze, suffered first- and second-degree burns. Cornelius was treated at North Arundel Hospital and released, as were four injured residents whose names were not released.

An unidentified 25-year-old man who also jumped from a third-floor window to escape the fire suffered no injuries but was taken to North Arundel Hospital for evaluation.

"For that time of night and the fact that they were woken to a fire like that, we're very glad that there weren't more injuries or people trapped," said Anne Arundel County Fire Battalion Chief John M. Scholz.

Residents of the Glen Ridge Apartments community said they were awakened just before 3 a.m. yesterday when they heard a woman screaming for help. Marie Gaitan and her daughter Juana, who live in a building across from the one in which the fire occurred, said they looked out their window when they heard the yelling and saw a woman sitting on the ledge of a third-floor apartment window.

Of the 60 people evacuated, 30 lived in an adjacent building that was not affected by the fire and were allowed to return to their homes within an hour. Scholz said the 30 residents of the building in which the fire occurred will not be allowed back into their apartments for at least a couple of days.

"She was shouting, `Help me! Help me!' and people below her were going `Jump! Jump!' but she kept saying, `I'm too scared. I'm going to die,' " said Juana, 14. "It was crazy. At first, I thought she died because she didn't move or anything for a few minutes. Then she tried to get up."

Maria Gaitan said she called 911 and put on a coat and went outside to see if anybody needed help. She said many residents had wrapped themselves in blankets and left the building -- some without socks.

Gaitan said people in her building also bundled up and stood outside because they were afraid the wind would fan the flames in the direction of their building.

Firefighters arrived shortly after 3: 10 a.m. to find flames shooting 20 to 30 feet into the air from the roof, Scholz said. They managed to contain the fire, and prevent it from spreading to other units within 15 minutes, he said.

Firefighters freed two people who were trapped on the second floor, helping one walk down the dark, smoky stairwell and extending a ladder onto a second-floor balcony to help the other down.

The icy road and sidewalks made it difficult to fight the fire at first, prompting firefighters to call in county Public Works employees to shovel sand onto the slippery ground. The fire was under control by 4 a.m., Scholz said.

He said officials are investigating the cause of the fire and working on an estimate of damage to the building.

A representative of Morgan Properties, which manages Glen Ridge Apartments, declined to comment.

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