Firefighter injured in blaze at Fort Meade

October 21, 2006|By Andrea Siegel | Andrea Siegel,Sun Reporter

A fire fanned by gusty winds ripped through a building at Fort Meade yesterday that houses several military offices, including an intelligence unit with sensitive security material.

The area was evacuated shortly after the fire broke out, post officials said.

Firefighters from Prince George's, Howard and Anne Arundel counties and from Fort Meade responded to the six-alarm blaze at the fort in western Anne Arundel County.

The fire broke out sometime after 3 p.m. and produced billowing smoke that could be seen for miles. The blaze was brought under control by 8 p.m., officials said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation last night and a damage estimate was unavailable. One firefighter suffered a minor leg injury, officials said.

The building, Nathan Hale Hall, at 4554 Llewellyn Ave., is used by the 902nd Military Intelligence Group. The unit conducts counterintelligence, including the search for terrorists, according to the Associated Press.

The group, the Army's largest counterintelligence unit, was in the news earlier this year when the American Civil Liberties Union sued to obtain records that suggested the unit was keeping records of anti-war protests in the United States, the Associated Press reported.

The three-story, red brick building also houses an office that adjudicates security clearances, as well as a defense printing office, according to the wire service.

The fire appeared to be on the top floor and attic.

Officials did not say which department the firefighter worked for. But base spokesman Rich Lane said last night that strong winds hampered firefighters attempts to control the fire.

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