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3 injured in high-rise fire in Kensington

Residents of the 12-story Waterford Apartments in Kensington, Maryland are getting back into their units Tuesday morning after a fire spread through two ninth floor condominiums and sent three people to hospitals with injuries that were not life-threatening.

One firefighter and two people inside the building went to the hospital, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman Pete Piringer. One was transported for smoke inhalation.

Crews have been still assessing fire and water damage to units, but Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said it is “very likely” that the majority of residents will be allowed to return, outside of a handful of apartments directly impacted. Montgomery County emergency management officials and the Red Cross have been on scene assisting residents.

Some residents of apartments up to the sixth floor were allowed to head back in around 8:30 a.m.

It took over 100 firefighters to bring the three-alarm fire under control as flames burned and smoke billowed out of the building in the 3300 block of University Boulevard, shutting the heavily traveled road down during the morning commute.

Piringer said the fire started around 5 a.m. and spread to two units on the building’s ninth floor. Firefighters assisted with multiple rescues from upper floors which became filled with smoke, Piringer said.

NBC Washington helicopter footage showed the bulk of the flames had been contained or extinguished by 7 a.m., with firefighters seen assessing a ninth floor balcony near where the inferno originated.

Goldstein said crews endured thick smoke that had infiltrated the upper floors of the 150-unit condominium, and that residents were seen attempting to escape the worst of the smoke and flames.

“Any time you’re in a high-rise building, you deal with smoke going up, and there was a fair amount of smoke that accumulated on the 12th floor, with some residents sheltered in place,” Goldstein told WTOP’s Neal Augenstein.

“We did have some residents moving along the balconies on their own to relocate from one part of the building to another.”

Goldstein had no information to provide on what caused the fire.

Below is a map of the affected area.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein reported from Kensington, Maryland. WTOP’s Colleen Kelleher contributed to this report.

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