The fire department has identified the woman who was killed in a house fire in New Carrollton, Maryland, on Saturday evening.
Anita Ellis, 57, died shortly after arriving at a hospital, the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department said Monday. A man in the house is still in critical condition, the department said, and a firefighter from the College Park Volunteer Fire Department has been released from a hospital after being treated for second-degree burns.
The fire, on Inlet Street in New Carrollton, appears to have started in the basement around 6 p.m.
The fire department hasn’t worked out what caused the fire yet, but said it didn’t appear to be suspicious. They added that the house didn’t have any working smoke alarms, and that units spent Sunday going around neighborhoods in New Carrollton and Lanham checking smoke alarms.
Andrew Pantelis, the president of the county firefighters’ union, raised concerns on Sunday about the response time to the fire. The department said three of the closest volunteer fire stations weren’t staffed, and the first station to respond was the Landover Hills Volunteer Fire Department, which was the fourth-closest to the house.
“This incident could have had a very different outcome if fire trucks arrived in a quicker amount of time,” Pantelis said.
The department said in a statement posted on Facebook that their goal is for the first unit to arrive at a fire within five minutes and 20 seconds, and for 15 firefighters to be on the scene by the 12-minute mark. They said that in Saturday’s blaze, the first unit arrived in six minutes and 30 seconds, and 15 firefighters were there within 12 minutes.
Deputy Chief Brian Frankel said on Sunday that the county is working to make sure there is staffing where it’s needed to help volunteer departments that struggle to maintain volunteers, but didn’t say that was the reason that prevented West Lanham Hills from keeping their stations staffed.
“It’s been an ongoing discussion for several years and we’re working with the volunteer leadership, the county and the county executive’s office to determine the best course of action moving forward to staff those stations,” Frankel said.
He added that it couldn’t be known whether getting to the scene more quickly would have changed the outcome.
The department has said an internal review of staffing needs is underway.
WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report.
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