Victim tried to extinguish Thanksgiving Eve house fire that killed 2

The aftermath of a fire Thursday that claimed the lives of a mother and son. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
The aftermath of a fire Thursday that claimed the lives of a mother and son. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein) (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Western Avenue fire
Montgomery County Fire spokesman Pete Piringer says the Western Avenue fire is the first and second residential fire fatality of the year in the county. (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire) (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire)
The Montgomery County home where a mother and son lost their lives after a fire Wednesday morning. (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire & EMS)
The Montgomery County home where a mother and son lost their lives after a fire Wednesday morning. (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire & EMS) (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire & EMS)
western avenue fire
As of 3:30 a.m., the fire has been controlled, but crews are still working on “hot spots” at the Western Avenue fire. (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire) (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire)
western avenue fire
Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said a neighbor first called reporting the fire on the 4900 block of Western Avenue. (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire) (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire )
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The aftermath of a fire Thursday that claimed the lives of a mother and son. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)
Western Avenue fire
The Montgomery County home where a mother and son lost their lives after a fire Wednesday morning. (Courtesy Montgomery County Fire & EMS)
western avenue fire
western avenue fire

BETHESDA, Md. — Investigators believe a Montgomery County man tried to extinguish the fire that killed him and his elderly mother in their home along the Maryland and D.C. line early Wednesday morning.

At approximately 1 a.m., firefighters responded to a 911 call from neighbors of a burning house in the 4900 block of Western Avenue.

“We believe [the fire] started on the first floor,” said Pete Piringer, spokesperson with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. “Investigators found a fire extinguisher that had been discharged, as [the man] apparently tried to fight the fire.”

Family members and neighbors identified the victims as 62-year-old John Randolph, an accountant at WSSC, and his 94-year-old mother, Inga, but their identities are not yet confirmed. One victim was found upstairs, the other downstairs.

Piringer said investigators believe the man tried to assist his mother, but both victims were likely disoriented and quickly became incapacitated from the smoke.

“The big thing is, we really want people to call 911, get out of the house and stay out,” Piringer said. “A fire doubles in size in a minute.”

There were no working smoke detectors in the home, according to Piringer. One of the alarms had an expired battery.

“Investigators found new smoke alarms on a shelf, but even those were from 2013, not the current model with the 10-year sealed battery,” Piringer said.

Montgomery County police continue with their death investigation, which will include positive identification of the victims.

Fire investigators have not said what they believe started the fire.


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