Family, friends and colleagues remembered the Silver Spring, Maryland, woman who died during a fire at an apartment building downtown on Saturday.
They said Melanie Diaz, 25, is a loving daughter and colleague who put others first.
“Everybody loved her, she gave you a lot of love,” her father, Cesar Diaz, told NBC Washington.
Melanie Diaz was inside her 11th floor apartment at the Arrive Silver Spring Apartment Complex when the fire broke out early Saturday morning.
“She was an angel you know, and God asked for her,” her father said.
Melanie Diaz was originally from South Florida and worked at the Aspen Institute, focusing on climate issues. She was also a graduate of Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
The woman killed in a high-rise fire in Silver Spring, Maryland, over the weekend worked for D.C.-based think tank Aspen Institute and was a graduate of Georgetown University. https://t.co/LQifN4280t
— NBC4 Washington (@nbcwashington) February 21, 2023
In a statement, Greg Gershuny, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Energy and Environment Program, said she accomplished so much in her all-too-brief time on this planet.
More importantly, Melanie was a truly kind, thoughtful, and caring human being who took care of her co-workers and friends and put others first, Gershuny said.
“She checked in with each of us regularly to genuinely see how we were doing. She would go out of her way to comfort others during stressful or difficult times. We know that she will be terribly missed by all who knew her,” Gershuny said.
The building Melanie Diaz was in did not have a sprinkler system, and Maryland State Fire Marshall Brian S. Geraci said that played a role in what took place.
“Had fire sprinklers been in place, this outcome would have been different,” Geraci said in a tweet.
He also said the Statewide Fire Protection Code requires all high-rise buildings to install sprinklers by 2033.
Cesar Diaz said until sprinklers are in place, people should not live in the building.
“In my opinion right now, that building is still unsafe for people living there,” Cesar Diaz said.
Brian Geraci, Maryland state fire marshal, said there’s been work with a state delegate representing Montgomery County who will sponsor a bill regarding sprinklers. Although he said he was hopeful, Geraci sounded a note of cautious optimism.
“So we’ll see what happens, but it’s not gonna happen fast,” the fire marshal said.
He said a few years ago, he went to the State Fire Prevention Commission and asked them to declare buildings similar to Arrive in Silver Spring an amicable hazard under the public safety article in the state. That, however, did happen.
Authorities haven’t said what caused the fire, but the fire marshal said, in general, the prevalence of electronics, such as solar panels, electric cars and other technology using lithium ion batteries, could contribute to an increased fire risk.
“The technology and those types of things that we’re gonna see, that’s something we have to prepare for. And again, you know, I don’t want to scare anybody, and I don’t want anybody to have fear, but you have to be prepared like for anything, you know, fire, another type of disaster, hurricane tornado, whatever.”
WTOP’s Hugh Garbrick contributed to this report.