Beltsville, Prince Georges County Apartment Fire on Cherry Hill Road

12:33 PM, Dec 1, 2013   |    comments
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Saturday, Michael Chambers of Beltsville, Md. lost a friend. He then came home and nearly lost that too.

"I just came home from a funeral," said Chambers. "As I was walking out the stairs [of the apartment building], my neighbor was walking out the house and my neighbor said, 'I think I've got a fire going on in here.' "

The two searched the neighbor's condo and found smoke but no fire. Chambers then ran next door to his condo where he found the source -- a lamp that had been accidentally tipped over in his storage closet. Chambers said he tried to put out the fire.

"I thought I extinguished it but apparently, like I said, it started going down the wall. then it just kept going," he recalled.

Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor said apartment building fires spread quickly and present a major challenge to fire fighters and people in the building.

"A lot more because of the common walls, ceilings and roofs that are attached to these units," said Chief Bashoor.

In all, six condos were damaged from fire and water. Prince George's County Fire Fighters said the afternoon fire caused at least $100,000 in property damage to the building on Cherry Hill Road.

Meanwhile, people living in the rest of the building -- even units not effected by fire and water -- cannot go home until gas and electricity are restored, which could take days.

At least 24 people are displaced, including families and at least ten children, according to Chief Bashoor.

"A fire anytime is not good. But this time of the year, the holiday season, you know, now-a-days, money is tight for people. So, hopefully maybe we can rally the community [to help]," said Al Schwartz, Chief of the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department.


Chambers' condo was among the damaged, his belongings among the destroyed.

"I got all my kids baby pictures up there. That's all you think about, you know?" said an emotional Chambers. "I was just thinking about my kids pictures."

But even Chambers knows: stuff can be replaced. What he still has can not.

"It's about family. My brother, he called. [My fiance] is here for me. I'm good, man. No one got hurt. I mean, all this," he said, pointing to the damaged building, "could be torn down and rebuilt. Everybody is good."


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