Families displaced, neighbors evacuated in Gaithersburg townhouse fire

Montgomery County, Maryland, firefighters battled a towering blaze in a Gaithersburg townhouse early Wednesday, braving both flames and frigid temperatures.

Fire crews were called to the 300 block of West Deer Park Road, in a Gaithersburg neighborhood off northbound Interstate 270, around 3 a.m. Wednesday. They found flames enveloping a townhouse with reports of people trapped in the building’s basement.

Residents of the burning townhouse and neighboring buildings were evacuated to Summit Hall Elementary School. Montgomery County RideOn and medical ambulance buses were also brought in to serve as a warming shelter for evacuees amid frigid overnight temperatures, with wind chills in the mid teens.

Fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said there were no injuries and all occupants are accounted for, but several pets including cats and dogs remain missing.

“Several families will be displaced, in the meantime, evacuees are temporarily sheltered at a nearby elementary school,” Piringer later tweeted from the scene. “Miraculously, there were no injuries.”

A second alarm was called to bring in additional firefighting resources. Nearly 100 fire personnel responded to the blaze, Piringer added, with crews working through the morning to knock down hot spots.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Below is a map of the area:

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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