Cars catch fire at Silver Spring garage

Burned cars sit on the third deck of a parking garage in Silver Spring Monday morning. Two other cars were damaged in the blaze but no one was hurt. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

Silver Spring, Md. – Three cars were destroyed and another badly damaged when a car in a Silver Spring, Maryland, garage caught fire and the fire spread Monday morning.

“Nobody got hurt and unfortunately, there was some damage done to the cars,” says Battalion Chief Mark Davis.

The fire broke out on the third deck of a multilevel garage between Cameron Street and Fenwick Lane off of Georgia Avenue Monday morning.

Melanka of Maryland, who didn’t want to give her last name, says it was her car that sparked the fire as she parked for work.

“The car started smoking so I tried to back the car out of the parking space to give it room for what ever is going on,” she said.

She tells WTOP she tried to back out and save the other cars around her but soon realized “I have three kids, I need to get out of this car before it blows up.”

She got out, grabbing what she could and “before I could even get to the back of the car, the whole car was engulfed in flames,” she said.

In the garage she called out for help.

“I started screaming and just begging people to come and bring a fire extinguisher. Somebody brought one and it didn’t work.”

With tears streaming down her face, she said her biggest regret is “that I couldn’t save their cars you know, because they are just like me, going to work.”

Rish Weliwita of Gaithersburg was parking his car nearby when the fire started. He said he heard three explosions.

“I was panicking,” Weliwita said. “I heard the third blast, that’s when I ran to a police officer and said this cannot be natural.”

Montgomery County fire crews quickly arrived after getting the call about 9:30 a.m. However Davis says crews had some difficulty reaching the fire because it was on the third level of the Cameron Street garage.

“A lot of times you have to use the water that’s available from the stairways or bring it yourself over the side walls,” he said.

Crews used ladders to stretch hoses up to the fire.

Three cars were destroyed, a fourth was badly damaged, several others had the lenses on their headlight and tail lights melted.

“It looks like it may be accidental…just by the nature of the one car catching on fire and being parked so close to the others that that would spread to the others as well,” Davis said.

The ceilings and walls of the garage in the area of the fire were blackened. And building inspectors were called in to see if the fire compromised the structural integrity of the garage.

“We’ve done a preliminary check and it appears to be okay,” Davis said.

The fire caused an estimated $100,000 in damage, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman Pete Piringer.

That damage includes $75,000 to the vehicles and $25,000 to the building.

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