Fire gutted an apartment complex in Fort Washington, leaving a gaping hole where a wall and roof once stood just off Brinkley Road in the shadow of the beltway.
WASHINGTON — Fire gutted an apartment complex in Fort Washington, leaving a gaping hole where a wall and roof once stood just off Brinkley Road in the shadow of the beltway.
Residents from nearly a dozen units have been displaced, but extraordinary measures taken by those who live there ensured everyone would live to tell about it.
The first of many 911 calls started coming in around 8:30 a.m. Sunday.
One of them was made by Kent Boone, who lives across the street from where the fire started.
“I called 911 because a lady was standing outside the building yelling ‘someone please call 911’ about four or five times,” said Boone. “We saw the smoke, that’s when I jetted out the house and ran over.”
By that point, there was little he could do himself.
On the top floor, he watched as a mother and her boyfriend worked to get two small children — ages 2 and 5 — out of harm’s way. Once they were on the balcony, he watched the boyfriend “came down the balcony, he hopped on the other balcony, the lower balcony.
“The mother got the child, and the child had to dangle, and I guess [the boyfriend] grabbed the baby, got the baby down. Then the other guy that was standing [on the balcony below] grabbed the baby. The mother got the baby down, then [the boyfriend] grabbed the mom, got her down and everything, and everybody was safe.”
Firefighters from Prince George’s and Fairfax Counties arrived soon after.
“It burned quite hot,” says Prince George’s County Fire and Rescue spokesman Mark Brady. “The fire extended up to the roof area. Numerous residents required rescue from balconies.
“We ushered probably three or four down off balconies.”
He said others around the building didn’t wait.
“We also understand that before our arrival, some residents had either jumped from other balconies or were assisted down to safety.
“They did the right thing,” said Brady. “Have an escape plan ready. Whether you live in a house, apartment, a high rise, whatever. Have an escape plan ready should an event occur so you know how to get out.”
Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.